“I’d like to hear his wife say something,” Trump told The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd. He doubled down when speaking to George Stephanopoulos on ABC News’ “This Week,” suggesting that Khan’s wife Ghazala didn’t speak while standing next to her husband because of Islamic protocol:
I saw him. He was, you know, very emotional. And probably looked like—a nice guy to me. His wife, if you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably—maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me, but plenty of people have written that by asking why the Muslim father of a slain American solider would not let his wife speak.
But Ghazala Khan did not remain silent.
“Donald Trump has asked why I did not speak at the Democratic convention,” Khan wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post. “He said he would like to hear from me. Here is my answer to Donald Trump: Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart.”
She went on to discuss her son Humayun, who died while serving with the armed forces in Iraq, and the grief she felt over his death. ”Walking onto the convention stage, with a huge picture of my son behind me, I could hardly control myself,” she wrote. “What mother could? Donald Trump has children whom he loves. Does he really need to wonder why I did not speak?”
She then criticized Trump’s view of Muslims, which he has employed in proposing bans on Muslim immigration to the United States. “When Donald Trump is talking about Islam, he is ignorant,” she wrote. “If he studied the real Islam and Koran, all the ideas he gets from terrorists would change, because terrorism is a different religion.”
Trump’s response to Khizr Khan’s speech, which criticized the candidate’s suggestion that Muslims do not have a place in American society,” received criticism from fellow Republican leaders and former presidential candidates (tweets compiled by CNN):
There’s only one way to talk about Gold Star parents: with honor and respect. Capt. Khan is a hero. Together, we should pray for his family.— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) July 31, 2016
This is so incredibly disrespectful of a family that endured the ultimate sacrifice for our country. https://t.co/TQcMuwXTKV— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) July 31, 2016
Trump’s slur against Captain Khan’s mother is, even for him, beyond the pale. He has NO redeeming qualities.— John Weaver (@JWGOP) July 30, 2016
CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) August 1, 2016
Trump tried to shift the focus back to what he saw as the core issue:
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2016
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2016
Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski defended Trump’s comments on CNN’s “New Day,” this morning (August 1), saying that the Khan family acted hypocritically by saying they don’t want to be on TV after criticizing Trump. “When you decide to step forward in front of 20 million people at a Democratic National Convention to tell the story of your family and personally attack, or at least allude to attack, the Republican GOP candidate for president, you no longer have the shield of saying, ‘I don’t want to be in the spotlight with my family anymore.’”
The Khans also appeared on “New Day,” imploring Trump to employ empathy in creating policy. “You gather good people to get rid of bad people, but you do not malign the whole religion, the whole culture,” said Khizr Khan. “ ‘Only war’ is not the solution.”