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Opinion: The Constitution we carry

Khizr Khan, father of deceased Muslim U.S. Soldier Humayun S. M. Khan, holds up a copy of the U.S. Constitution during a speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 28. |Getty Images

A week after the attacks of 9/11, I went to a town hall meeting at my mosque in the south suburbs, where there was a coming together of religious and civic leaders, local elected officials and law enforcement. It was a remarkable gathering, so I remember vividly when a South Asian Muslim lawyer pulled a copy of the U.S. Constitution from his pocket, waved it high in the air and proclaimed, “Every single person in this room needs to keep a copy of the Constitution on your person always. If you don’t know English, then we can give you copies in Arabic.”I thought of that civil rights lawyer last week when I, along with millions of other Americans, watched Khizr Khan, standing beside his wife, speak at the Democratic National Convention. Mr. Khan — the father of Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed by a car bomb in Iraq in 2004 — delivered a powerful and dignified speech, honoring his fallen son’s life and legacy and strongly rebuking Donald Trump’s hypocrisy.OPINION

In what may have been the most powerful moment of either convention, Khan pulled out a copy of the Constitution and incredulously asked if Donald Trump had ever even read it. And if he hadn’t, Khan said, he would be happy to lend Trump his copy.“You have sacrificed nothing and no one” to our country, Khan said.What we saw was a father’s determination and a mother’s pain. The Khans refuse to allow Donald Trump and the Islamophobes to ignore the loss of their beloved son — an American soldier, an immigrant, a Muslim. They refuse to be bullied by fascists and they refuse to let their family’s story be erased from the American narrative because of their religion.I could not help but be moved to tears by Khan’s speech. As a Muslim woman, as a child of immigrants, as an American who was, and remains, opposed to both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, I was moved. I saw a mother and father — who look like the aunties and uncles with whom I pray at the mosque — share their grief and dignity with a country that likely did not even know people like Humayun Khan ever lived, enlisted or died.I watched a Muslim man, an immigrant who chose to come to the United States and raise his family here, rebuke the Republican nominee for president for his Islamophobia, racism, and sexism. I honor the sacredness of their grief — parents who bury their children are heroes — and pray for their family.Yet I cannot help but wonder at where we are as a country. Over the last several years, and certainly over the duration of the Republican presidential campaign, Islamophobia and racism have become so mainstream — so ingrained in our national psyche – that it has become ordinary to hear leading Republican candidates propose banning Muslims from entering the United States, shutting down mosques in the U.S. and conducting whole sale surveillance of Muslim “neighborhoods.”It should be a given that American Muslims want our communities and counties to be safe from terrorism, domestic and foreign. Regardless of our political beliefs, of where we were born, or of our stances regarding war, drones and the use of torture, American Muslims have the right to be treated as full and equal citizens. That it had to be a grieving Muslim father whose Muslim child made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the United States military, to defend the right of American Muslims to be treated as full and equal citizens, breaks my heart.For years after the 9/11 attacks, I would see pocket copies of the Constitution in mosques across the country. Perhaps we can start a campaign to send some to Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Newt Gingrich, Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP.Hind Makki is an interfaith educator and writer who focuses on interfaith action, anti-racism education and women’s empowerment. She is also the founder and curator of Side Entrance, a crowd-sourced website that documents women’s prayer experiences in mosques around the world.Follow the Editorial Board on Twitter: Follow @csteditorials

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