Bay Ridge

Brooklyn Muslims blast Trump over Khan remarks

August 1, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
In this July 28 AP file photo, Khizr Khan, father of fallen US Army Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan and his wife Ghazala speak during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

The controversy of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s inflammatory statement about the parents of a Muslim U.S. soldier killed in the war in Iraq is huge. And the debate pitting the bombastic billionaire against Khazr and Ghazala Khan is being closely watched in Brooklyn, a borough that is home to thousands of Muslims.

“Much like his inflated ego and net worth, Donald Trump is running an empty campaign —devoid of real ideas, any track record of accomplishments, and, as we’ve seen in the past few days, lacking even basic human empathy for bereaved parents,” Bay Ridge resident Linda Sarsour, director of the organization MPower Change, told the Brooklyn Eagle via email on Monday.

Sarsour charged that Trump “constantly slanders Islam, Muslims and Muslim communities” in his campaign rhetoric.

Also on Monday, representatives of the group #VetsVsHate were scheduled to hold a press conference outside Trump Tower to denounce the presidential contender.

“Muslim-American veterans and active duty service members are a part of the diverse fabric of the United States. They are entitled to the same dignity and constitutional protections as any other American. To scapegoat an entire group for the actions of a few is contradictory to the values and principles U.S. troops swore to defend, and to degrade entire nations of people as extremists and terrorists doesn’t make us patriots or safe, it makes us bigots,” Ghanim Khalil, a Muslim-American military veteran, said in a statement.

Among the groups expected to participate in the press conference were MPower Change, Interfaith Center of New York, Council on American Islamic Relations, Arab American Association of New York, Turning Point for Women & Families, Muslim Officers Society, Islamic Leadership Council, and Middle Collegiate Church.

The political firestorm began shortly after Khizr Khan and his wife Ghazala appeared onstage at the Democratic National Convention on July 28 after a film tribute to their son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in the war in Iraq in 2004.

Khizr Khan criticized a proposal Trump made earlier in the presidential campaign for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. Trump later amended the proposal to call for a ban on any immigrants seeking entry into the U.S. from countries where ISIS has a foothold.

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With his wife standing silently by his side, Khan denounced Trump, took a copy of the Constitution out of his jacket pocket and asked aloud if Trump had ever read it.

Trump’s reaction, in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, was to question why Ghazala Khan did not speak at the convention and to suggest that the Gold Star mother was prevented from speaking.

Trump’s comments, as well as his subsequent tweets, have brought on an avalanche of criticism.  Over the weekend, Trump tweeted: “I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic Convention. Am I not allowed to respond? Hillary voted for the Iraq war, not me!”

He also tweeted: “Captain Khan, killed 12 years ago, was a hero, but this is about RADICAL ISLAMIC TERROR and the weakness of our ‘leaders’ to eradicate it!”

The criticism isn’t likely to die down.

U.S. Marine veteran Ramon Mejia, a member of #VetsVsHate, blasted Trump. “Trump has never served a day in his life, yet he sees fit to reject my freedom of religion. As veterans, we believe that it’s our duty to defend the constitutional rights of all citizens,” said Mejia, who is a Muslim.

On Monday morning, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, Trump’s vice presidential running mate, sought to stem the tide of criticism by issuing a statement paying tribute to the late Capt. Khan and his grieving parents.

Donald Trump and I believe that Captain Humayun Khan is an American hero and his family, like all Gold Star families, should be cherished by every American,” the statement read.

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