“Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims,” said Khan, a resident of Charlottesville, Virginia. “He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He loves to build walls and ban us from this country,” said Khan, as the packed hall cheered him on during the prime-time speech, delivered minutes before Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took the stage to accept her party’s nomination.
In a video before Khan’s speech, Clinton said: “If you want to see the best of America, you need look no further than Army Captain Humayun Khan.”
Clinton narrated Humayun Khan’s childhood of immigrating to the U.S., as a young child, and graduating from the University of Virginia before enlisting in the U.S. Army. At the university, Khan served with the ROTC and had planned to go to law school after finishing military service. He graduated with a degree in psychology, and served as a counselor to U.S. soldiers on the battlefields in Iraq, according to The Washington Post.
Khan quickly moved up the ranks to captain, and was assigned to lead an infantry unit in Iraq. On June 8, 2004, as the unit was guarding a base, a suspicious car appeared. Khan told his unit to get to safety, but he took 10 steps towards the suspicious automobile before it exploded, said Clinton in the video.
“Captain Khan was killed but his unit was saved by his courageous act,” said the Democratic presidential nominee, noting that Khan was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, two of the U.S. military’s highest honors.
Khan was 27 when he was killed.
At his convention speech, Khan eviscerated Trump, amidst cheers from the large audience. “Donald Trump, you are ousting Americans,” he said, apparently referencing the candidate’s oft-made proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the country, and more carefully scrutinizing Muslim Americans who live in the U.S.
In an extremely powerful moment, Khan pulled out a pocket-sized version of the U.S. Constitution and said: “Donald Trump, you are asking America to trust you with the future, let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution?” “I will gladly lend you my copy,” said Khan – who described his family as “patriotic Muslim Americans” – as the convention hall erupted in cheers.
“Look for the word liberty and equal protection of law,” Khan told Trump, exhorting him to visit the graves at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia, where his son is buried.
“Look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities.”
“You have sacrificed nothing,” said Khan, stating his support for Clinton before he and his wife left the stage amidst a standing ovation.
Earlier that evening, retired U.S. General John Allen spoke onstage, surrounded by several members of the military, including Saif Khan, an Indian American Iraq War veteran who serves as a volunteer on Clinton’s National Veterans & Military Families Steering Committee; and Army Major Kamal Kalsi, one of the first Sikh Americans granted the right to serve in the military with his turban and beard intact.
“I'm joined by my fellow generals and admirals and with these magnificent young veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Allen. “They went there, they risked their lives because they love this country. And they are here before you because this most consequential election is the greatest one in our memory for the president of the United States. The stakes are enormous.”
“We must not and we could not stand on the sidelines. This election can carry us to a future of unity and hope, or to a dark place of discord and fear. We must choose hope,” said Allen, extolling a vision that included every race, religion, gender and sexual identity.
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