The father of a fallen Pakistani-American Muslim soldier, whose public spat with Donald Trump won him a lot of support, has attacked the Republican presidential nominee for his divisive rhetoric but expressed satisfaction that “thankfully, this isn’t your America”.
Khizr Khan, 66, father of Army Captain Humayun Khan, hit the campaign trail for the first time along with Hillary Clinton to make an emotional endorsement of the Democratic nominee.
“Donald Trump, would my son, Capt Humayun Khan, have a place in your America? Would Muslims have a place in your America? Would Latinos have a place in your America? Would African Americans have a place in your America? Would anyone who isn’t like you have a place in your America?” he asked.
“Thankfully, Donald Trump, this isn’t your America,” he added as the crowd in Manchester, New Hampshire roared and applauded in response.
“And on Tuesday we are going to prove America belongs to all of us,” said Khan, who has emerged as a national hero particularly among Muslim Americans after his July speech in the Democratic National Convention.
While posthumously receiving a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his son after he was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004, Khan had stunned a national audience when he directly confronted the controversial real estate tycoon, saying Trump “has sacrificed nothing and no one”.
He had also campaigned for Clinton in his home state in Virginia and made a passionate plea in a one-minute campaign ad for Clinton, fighting back tears and asking in a heavy voice if his deceased son have a place in Trump’s America.
In Manchester, he introduced Clinton -- who has lashed out on several occasions against Trump for insulting Khan and his family -- as someone who would ”preserve fundamental American values”.
He said that in Clinton, people see a leader who is fighting for the true values of this country, which are “under attack” by Trump in this election.
Khan added that the general election on Tuesday will “decide the future of America and the world”.
When Clinton took the podium, she thanked Khan for his support and made a nod toward the difficult task of mending fences after a divisive presidential campaign.
“We will have some work to do to bring about healing and reconciliation after this election,” she said.
Vowing to be a president for all Americans, Clinton said the idea that the US is “hopeful, inclusive, big-hearted, united” is one of the most fundamental values.
“We must make sure it remains a place, where everyone is included, where people who are willing to work hard can get ahead and stay ahead, where we recognise the importance of the American dream and we believe and we will ensure it is big enough for everyone, not just a few,” she said and thanked Khan and his family for their sacrifice, their strength and commitment to the nation’s ideals.
Khan said: “On one hand, we have Donald Trump and his policies of hate, exclusion, intimidation and division. He challenges the impartiality of our justice system. His shameful disrespect of women has been embarrassing for America to watch.
“His angry, unstable temperament proves him unsuitable for the office of commander-in-chief of our armed forces -- unsuitable -- unsuitable for the office of commander-in-chief of our armed forces and consumption of the nuclear arsenal/nuclear asset of this country.
“On the other hand, we have Hillary Rodham Clinton, with her lifelong public service to this country. She is the strongest, most qualified representative of the fundamental values which have made this country a symbol of hope and dignity for all throughout the world.”
Clinton also reiterated her commitment to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top, to help all kids get the chance to thrive with good schools and good teachers.
“Our country needs to serve as a Commander-in-Chief that understands the sacred responsibility of sending our troops into battle,” she said.
Image: Gold Star father Khizr Khan speaks before introducing US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, US. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters