BOSTON — Khizr Khan said President Donald Trump is not protecting national security but endangering it with “bigoted” rhetoric and his so-called Muslim ban.
Khan spoke exclusively to The Daily Beast before accepting an award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts at its annual Bill of Rights Dinner on Monday.
When asked about the Ninth Circuit’s review of arguments from the federal government and attorneys on Trump’s executive order limiting travel from Muslim-majority countries, Khan said, “We need to have faith that presidents come and go, but these values enshrined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights will remain not just for us but for rest of world who sees this as a beacon of hope.”
Khan commented on the strategy Trump has used in saying that the Muslim ban will strengthen the nation’s national security.
“This is not only my opinion, but the leaders of this country’s national-security agencies, who have said that these policies and these pronouncements only worsen the situation. It alienates the community, which creates room for those who don't wish us well—room for terrorist organizations to come and exploit innocent people.”
He continued that Trump’s “Muslim ban” is not about safety, but rather “because of political expediency and political bigoted statements to fulfill promises made by Trump” on the campaign trail. Khan said he believes that the EO is endangering American soldiers abroad, and “those who have worked in support of our armed forces.”
Khizr and Ghazala Khan are the Pakistani-American parents of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in combat in 2004 during a tour in Iraq. Khan was inspecting a suspicious vehicle when a bomb went off that killed him. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery and posthumously was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart for valor.
The story of Khan was brought to Americans’ attention during the 2016 presidential campaign, when his parents spoke on the final day of the Democratic National Convention.
At the ACLU dinner, the Gold Star father and attorney said he and his wife were hesitant to speak publicly, but received a note from neighborhood children in their mailbox. He identified them as four fifth-graders. It said, “Mr. and Mrs. Khan, we love Sofia very much. Can you make sure she is not thrown out of this country?” That’s when they decided to speak at the DNC.
There, Khizr criticized Trump’s then-proposed ban on Muslim immigration, which has since partially come to fruition with his January executive order. He said, “Let me ask you: Have you ever read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words “liberty,” and “equal protection of the law.”
In the days that followed, Trump implied that Ghazala Khan was silenced, saying, “maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.” The comments drew the ire of Democrats and Republicans alike.
She later published an op-ed in The Washington Post to respond. The Khans campaigned with Hillary Clinton during the last month of the campaign.
Khan has seen friends affected by the temporary travel ban in January, prior to the stays of removal enacted by several courts.
“I know a couple that refused to come back,” Khan said. “They were teaching at American universities and would not subject themselves to this. Our students and institutions are deprived of them.”
He said the same thing is happening to technology workers who are employed through visas from other countries, and cited that 30 percent of U.S. Nobel laureates have been foreign-born. He said they say, “I will go to Canada. I will go elsewhere,” adding “I remain concerned that my nation is losing a tremendous amount of contribution and entrepreneurship from immigrants.”
Khan concluded in his speech with a call to action for people to go to town halls. “Never underestimate the power of your voice. I am so grateful. Thank you for this honor.”