One of the most memorable moments from the two week spectacle that was the back to back Republican and Democratic national conventions was a moving speech by Khizr Khan, who spoke onstage at the DNC as a representative of the American Muslim community. Responding directly to Donald Trump’s controversial calls for at least a temporary ban on all immigration to the U.S. by Muslims, Khan talked about his son, Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who died serving in Iraq in 2004. Most famously, Khan blasted Trump for denigrating the contributions of Muslim immigrants saying “you have sacrificed nothing and no one,” a statement that became one of the most talked about moments from the DNC.
Trump didn’t take that criticism lightly, criticizing Khan and his wife Ghazala, who stood beside him on stage during the Democratic convention but did not speak. Trump first speculated that she had been forbidden by her husband to speak, a comment aimed squarely at stoking certain perceptions of Muslims, and then that Khan hadn’t written his own speech and was effectively acting as a sock puppet for the Democratic party. He was highly criticized for that ad hominem attack, but didn’t stop, telling George Stephanopoulos in an interview that, in fact, he had sacrificed a lot by, in his words, employing “thousands and thousands of people.”
Today the Khan family responded to Trump in an interview with ABC News, blasting his comments. “Running for president is not an entitlement to disrespect Gold Star families and [a] Gold Star mother not realizing her pain. Shame on him! Shame on his family,” said Khizr Khan. “He is not worthy of our comments. He has no decency. He is void of decency, he has a dark heart.””
As for the suggestion that she’d been forbidden to speak, Khizr said he invited his wife to speak, but she declined due to being too emotional. Ghazala Khan said “I didn’t feel anything except the pain… Mr. Trump feel that pain and you will feel better. Please. I am very upset when I heard when he said that I didn’t say anything. I was in pain. If you were in pain you fight or you don’t say anything, I’m not a fighter, I can’t fight. So the best thing I do was quiet.”
The public row with the Khan family comes at the same time as Trump’s attempted feud with the Commission on Presidential Debates over the fact that two of the scheduled 2016 debates coincide with NFL football games. Trump had claimed the NFL sent him a letter complaining about it, a claim the NFL has denied.