Khizr Khan’s journey from Pakistan to Democratic convention spotlight

Updated on Jul 31, 2016 01:08 AM IST
Khan, a lawyer with an advanced degree from Harvard, has become something of a hero among American Muslims long battling the influence of Donald Trump and bias.
Khizr Khan and Ghazala at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.(AFP)
Khizr Khan and Ghazala at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.(AFP)
Hindustan Times | ByYashwant Raj, Washington

Khizr Khan and his wife Ghazala were difficult to miss as they moved about the Democratic National Convention: he is very tall, and she wore a distinctive salwar-kurta. But hardly anyone took note.

That was before they took the stage and he delivered Donald Trump a brief but profound and powerful rebuke for his remarks against Muslims that have outraged people around the world.

Khan asked Trump if he had read the American Constitution, and held up his own copy, offering it to the Republican nominee, asking him to look for the words “liberty” and “equal protection of law” in it.

Khan, whose son, US Army Captain Humayun Khan, died in a suicide car bombing in Iraq in 2004, went on to tell Trump, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”

Neither Trump, who has said he wanted to “hit a number of those speakers” critical of him at the Democratic convention, nor his campaign, has responded to Khan’s remarks yet.

Both Khan and Ghazala were born and brought up in Pakistan, and then moved to Dubai, where their two elder sons were born — Humayun was the second. Their third was born in the US.

Khan, a lawyer with an advanced degree from Harvard, has since his Thursday speech become something of a hero among American Muslims long battling the influence of Trump and Trump-like bias.

Aftab Siddiqui, also a Pakistani-American, called Khan’s speech a “perfect response to Trump's vitriol” and said it will help in “softening of American Muslim perception in the society”.

The community has had to deal with unrelenting hostility and scrutiny since the 9/11 attacks, which have been exacerbated by recent attacks, especially the ones in San Bernardino and Orlando.

The community has sought to address the issue through increasing outreach and now, faced with Trump’s remarks, mobilising the community to vote to defeat him.

Khan said he was first contacted by the Clinton campaign about a December news report on how Muslims were responding to Trump’s remarks. He was quoted in it.

The Clinton campaign asked him if they could use his comments in a tribute they were planning for his son at the convention, which was still may weeks away. He agreed.

They got back again a few months later asking if Khan and his wife would like to attend — a speech was still not on the anvil. They were to be simply around to talk to reporters.

And then came the speech offer, but with tight time restrictions. Khan offered to keep it short, and declined the campaign’s offer, asking if he needed help with framing and writing his speech.

“I said: ‘I really don’t, I have my thoughts in my head’,” Khan told The New York Times. “I won’t make it an hour-long speech, just let me say what I want to say. It will be heart-to-heart.”

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • People walk past a poster of an Indian movie Baahubali: The Beginning outside a movie theatre in New Delhi, India, on April 12, 2017. (REUTERS)

    Toronto film festival to host director SS Rajamouli as keynote speaker

    As the south Indian film industry vies with Bollywood for commercial success across India and the world, one of its leading lights is gaining international recognition, featuring as a visionary at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). S S Rajamouli, director of blockbusters including Baahubali, its sequel Baahubali 2 and RRR this year, is joining elite company as a featured keynote speaker at TIFF's Visionaries programme this year.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia.

    'Unfriendly' nations not invited: Russia restricts access to its market

    Estonia tightens Russian visa rules as Germany rules out strict travel measure amid war in Ukraine Putin Calls Time on Foreign Listings in Fresh Hit to Tycoons “Given the circumstances, it will be necessary to develop trade and financial relations with those countries that are ready to do this with Russia,” said a former top Russian central bank and Finance Ministry official, Oleg Vyugin. Local bond yields are back to pre-war levels.

  • FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un pose for a photo during their meeting in Vladivostok, Russia.

    Putin says Russia and North Korea will expand bilateral relations: Report

    Russian President Vladimir Putin told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the two countries will "expand the comprehensive and constructive bilateral relations with common efforts," Pyongyang's state media reported on Monday. In a letter to Kim for Korea's liberation day, Putin said closer ties would be in both countries' interests, and would help strengthen the security and stability of the Korean peninsula and the Northeastern Asian region, North Korea's KCNA news agency said.

  • Indian-British author Salman Rushdie.

    Salman Rushdie event host thought attack was 'bad prank'

    The man set to interview Salman Rushdie in New York state moments before the renowned novelist was attacked said Sunday he initially thought someone was playing a cruel joke, but was jolted to reality when he saw blood. "It was very difficult to understand. It looked like a sort of bad prank and it didn't have any sense of reality," Henry Reese, president of non-profit group City of Asylum, told CNN. "Then when there was blood behind him, it became real."

  • Hadi Matar, 24, in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, New York.

    Father of man who tried to kill Rushdie locks himself, refuses to speak: Report

    The father of a man charged with attempting to murder novelist Salman Rushdie has locked himself in at his home in southern Lebanon and is refusing to speak to anyone, town mayor Ali Tehfe said on Sunday. The suspect in Friday's attack in New York state has been identified by police as 24-year-old Hadi Matar from New Jersey. Matar is originally Lebanese and his family comes from the south Lebanon town of Yaroun.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, August 15, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now