Anwar Khalifa is about as Texan as you can get. He speaks in a sharp twang and cruises around in a Chevy truck with real longhorns mounted on the front. He never skips “worship day,” he taught his three daughters to shoot, and, most important for his standing in Tyler society, the 57-year-old is a lifelong Republican.
For decades, Khalifa’s conservative politics coexisted just fine with his Muslim, immigrant background; his family moved from Egypt to Texas in the late 1960s. He chairs the nominating committee of the local Republican club, and he’s invited a slew of Republican politicians to the mosque his parents helped build. The biggest display in his office is a framed photo of him in a cowboy hat next to then-president George W. Bush at a White House event one Ramadan.
Khalifa’s loyalty to the GOP runs deep, and yet he’s down to maybe two Republican candidates he says he can vote for in good conscience in the November midterm elections. His East Texas ballot will include a candidate who apologized after approving a white nationalist rally, a bankruptcy-plagued radio host nicknamed “the Trump of Texas,” and a state official who compared Syrian refugees to rattlesnakes. Oh, and Sen. Ted Cruz. (“Just evil,” Khalifa said.)
Khalifa can’t bring himself to vote Democrat, but he sure isn’t voting for that GOP lineup, either.
“I can’t vote for people who are not just anti-Muslim, but who are anti anything that isn’t like them,” he said. “Unless you’re a white person in this country, you don’t matter to them.”