A Muslim-American father who lost his Army captain son in the Iraq War and later gained international attention for his verbal jousts with Donald Trump told a convention of Muslims in suburban Chicago Saturday that they must stand up against nasty rhetoric and plunge into American democracy.
In his speech at the 53rd annual Islamic Society of North America Convention in Rosemont, Khizr Khan sought to affirm Muslim Americans’ place in the U.S.
“Do not be silent against the menace of this smear of terrorism against Islam — today we reject the violence … and are silent no more,” Khan said.
“There are Muslims in this audience from all corners of the U.S., and when you get back, be a part of democracy,” he said to the crowd of a few thousand people. “Do justice to your religion in this generation and participate, regardless of where you stand on issues. Vote and be involved for future generations.”
Khan was joined on stage by his wife, Ghazala, who thanked the Muslim-American community for supporting her before introducing her husband.
The couple has inspired thousands of Muslim Americans since speaking at the Democratic National Convention in July. They are the parents of a Muslim-American U.S. Army captain who died in the Iraq War.
They made headlines after Khizr Khan’s DNC speech blamed GOP presidential candidate Trump for promoting intolerance of Muslims in America. It led to a series of back-and-forth jabs between Khan and Trump in which Trump suggested Ghazala Khan was prohibited from speaking because of her Muslim faith.
“Let your voice be heard so that tomorrow, our future generations, our children, don’t have to hear this ugly political rhetoric that we have heard . . . ” Khizr Khan said during his Saturday address.
Khan’s remarks on Saturday were in sync with the convention’s theme of “Turning Points: Navigating Challenges, Seizing Opportunities.” The convention started Friday and will run through Sunday at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. It is the largest gathering of Muslims in the U.S. and Canada.
The Khans were introduced by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who told the audience to spread a message of inclusion of Muslim Americans, whom he said struggle to be recognized as true Americans.
“Your story is an American story told over and over again of people who seek, and eventually win, your share of the American Dream,” Johnson said.