While Khizr Khan and his wife Ghazala were appearing on CNN Monday morning to ask for dignity about the growing controversy surrounding Donald Trump’s critical words on his speech at the Democratic National Convention, the Republican presidential nominee took to his Twitter page to slam their television appearance.
“That initiated this conversation. I again say, we want to maintain our dignity. We want to maintain my family’s dignity, my son’s dignity and sacrifice.”
In last week’s convention, Khan slammed Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, as his wife stood by silently. Their son, Humayun Khan, 27, of Bristow, Va., was killed by a car bomb in Iraq in 2004, and he was awarded the Purple Heart and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
After the Khans’ appearance, Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview that Ghazala Khan “was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably — maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.”
Khizr Khan told CNN that Trump should listen to the United States about what citizens are saying about his remarks, “about the lack of empathy, and that’s all I wish to convey to him. A good leader has one trait. Earlier I said empathy.”
Trump, he continued, “needs to sit with his advisers and portray to this world that he is empathetic. You solve the problems with empathy, putting people together. There are bad people among us, but there are good people among us as well.
“You gather good people to get rid of bad people, but you do not malign the whole religion, the whole culture. We are the solution to dealing with terrorism in the United States.”
Mrs. Khan told CNN Monday that her religion or her family or her culture have never stopped her from saying whatever she wants.
“My husband is very supportive of me in these things, that I have all the rights as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter,” she said. “I have done very well saying my mind out, but that time was different. And anybody can see it was different that time when I was standing there in front of America.
“Without saying a word, I had lots of love. I touched lots of hearts. So I’m thankful for everything that America has given me. Everything that I had got from America, most of it the love and respect.”
Muslim women have “all the rights, in the eyes of God, we’re equal to our husbands,” she continued. “We are equal, and we are number one in the household. In my family, in my culture, in my community. I’m very glad that I have been in this country and I got all the happiness. Somebody have to pay the price for this freedom that we have. Thank you, America.”
Her husband also insisted on the program that he and his family did not think that the issue would blow up and he’d be in the middle of such controversy.
He further told the program that his family is a “testament to the goodness of this country,” and called for Americans to stop fighting amongst each other.
“I feel bad about the discourse that this campaign, this election campaign has taken,” said Khan. “We need to join hands. We have a very serious problem for the safety of the citizens of this country. We are the solution. Look the treatment of Muslims in France and other places. There is much worse security issues than United States has.”
And the fact that Trump keeps fighting back is proof of his “ignorance and arrogance,” but later clarified that not to be an attack, but “his ignorance of the First Amendment.”
“I have exactly the same rights as he does,” said Khan. “He has been abusing, disrespecting women, judges, all decent Americans . . . He wants to have one set of rights for himself, and he wants to have another set of rights for others.”
Khan said he and his family now want to be out of the controversy.
“My good wife has been insisting that I not respond,” said Khan. “I take a more dignified path than responding to undignified attacks and comment . . . We are decent, dignified family of this country, very appreciative of the blessings that we have enjoyed, continue to enjoy, and we want to remain that way. This is not our path.”
The couple appeared on ABC, NBC, and MSNBC as well on Monday and their interviews included a tearful Mrs. Khan telling the story about the last time she spoke with her son, on Mother’s Day in 2014.
“He called me just to say happy Mother’s Day,” she recalled on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. “I was just talking to him, please stay safe. Don’t be running around. Don’t be a hero because I knew him. He had the habit of bringing people together and bringing good out of — he used to bring good things in every person he met.
“He always brought the people together. That’s way I asked him to be because I knew he would do something that would be hard for me.”
“He said, ‘Mom, I have a responsibility for my soldiers, for my regiment and my people. I have responsibility for them. I won’t quit that responsibility. I will love, I love my soldiers . . . I will take care of them.’ And he said he’ll do his job and he did.”