Donald Trump reignited his very public feud with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, parents of a fallen American Muslim soldier, saying in a tweet on Monday he was “viciously attacked”.
He continued to be criticised for it, with Republican senator John McCain telling him that party nomination did not give him “unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us”.
And the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a leading advocacy group, demanded an apology from the Republican candidate for disparaging the Khans.
On day four of the controversy triggered by Khizr Khan’s stinging rebuke of Trump at the Democratic convention, Trump tweeted: “Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over TV doing the same - Nice!”
Though the controversy has not played well for Trump, he continued to engage with it and stoke it with provocative remarks, perhaps because it keeps him in the headlines.
Trump has both courted and weathered such rows before in the campaign and emerged surprisingly unscathed, specially among his supporters and a Republican party mostly too weary to resist.
But his disparaging and insulting remarks against the Pakistani-origin Khans, whose son Captain Humayun Khan was killed in Iraq in 2004, have appalled many in his own party.
McCain said in a statement, “While our party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.”
The senator added it was time for Trump to “set the example for our country and the future of the Republican Party”. McCain is a war hero himself, jailed for years during the Vietnam war.
Earlier in the race, Trump had insulted him too, questioning his status as a war hero and saying he doesn’t think much of people who get captured. It was a race-ending move, but he survived.
As he probably believes, Trump will survive this one too. But it won’t be easy, with the American-Muslim community, for long at the receiving end of his divisive diatribe, fighting back.
CAIR’s Roula Allouch urged Trump on Sunday to “apologise for his shameful remarks disparaging” the Khans and “for his repeated use and promotion of anti-Muslim stereotypes”.
The council also announced the launch of a Twitter chain hash-tagged #CanYouHearUsNow, inviting American Muslim women to post “about who they are and how they speak out”.
This is a pushback from the community to Trump’s criticism of Ghazala Khan for standing by silently during her husband’s speech at the convention on July 28.
“If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say,” the Republican nominee had said. “Maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say.”