Donald Trump’s Remarks Spur Father of Slain Muslim Soldier Deeper Into Election Campaign
Clinton backer Khzir Khan leads effort to get out the Muslim vote and bridge rift caused by GOP candidate’s views on immigrants from Islamic nations
By BETH REINHARD, Wall Street Journal
Khzir Khan isn’t finished talking about his son, the U.S. Constitution and the dangers of bigotry.
The Muslim father of a soldier slain in Iraq, whose Democratic convention speech served as a rebuke of Republican Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric, is busy campaigning for Hillary Clinton and other Democrats.
In a recorded call on Sunday, he will urge half a million Muslims to go to the polls, part of a broader effort to get out the vote in that community, which appears to be succeeding.
And after Tuesday’s vote—no matter the outcome—he will continue making appeals at college campuses and civic groups for religious tolerance. He says he is booked through spring.
“There is a whole lot of healing that needs to be done after the election,” he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, shortly before he spoke at the University of Virginia, his son’s alma mater. “All this division that has been created needs to be dealt with so we can all recover as a nation, come together and move forward.”
Mr. Khan has emerged as the leading spokesperson in an unprecedented voter turnout operation in the Muslim community. There are at least 1 million Muslim voters in the U.S after a yearlong registration drive that signed up hundreds of thousands, the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations said on Wednesday.
Mosques and other Muslim institutions are organizing early-voting outings, distributing voter guides and incorporating get-out-the-vote appeals into traditional Friday services.
“Trump’s bigotry was a blessing in disguise,” said Zahid Bukhari, a leader of the Islamic Circle of North America, who joined about 100 people on Sunday for doughnuts and coffee at a Maryland mosque before voting early. “Those types of activities are going on everywhere.”
A Trump campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, didn’t respond to a request for comment on Wednesday morning.
Muslims make up only about 1% of the U.S. population, according to the Pew Research Center. But the community is concentrated in several pivotal battlegrounds, including Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida. Nearly three out of four Muslim voters back Mrs. Clinton, while only 4% support Mr. Trump, according to a poll by the nonpartisan Council on American Islamic Relations released earlier this month.
The registration drive began in December, just days after Mr. Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S. until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” His statement in response to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., remains on his campaign website, though Mr. Trump now frames his national security policy as blocking immigrants from countries that export terrorism.
Muslim leaders credit Mr. Trump for activating a fast-growing community that has yet to build political clout as have the Jewish and Christian communities in the U.S.
Mr. Bukhari pointed to the second presidential debate, when a Muslim voter asked the candidates about Islamophobia, injecting the issue into the national conversation.
Mr. Trump called Islamophobia “a shame” but added, “We can be politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem.” Asked about his proposed ban on Muslim immigrants he said, “It is called extreme vetting…hundreds of thousands of people come in from Syria where we know nothing about them. We know nothing about their values and we know nothing about their love for our country.”
Mrs. Clinton, in response to the same question, said the U.S. is “not at war with Islam, and it is a mistake and it plays into the hands of the terrorists to act as though we are.”
A pro-Muslim political-action committee, Emerge PAC, is circulating a digital ad that opens with a television clips of Mr. Trump saying, “Islam hates us.”
A CAIR voter guide distributed around the country includes several of Mr. Trump’s disparaging comments about the Muslim community, including his claim that Muslims in New Jersey cheered the Sept. 11 attacks.
Mrs. Clinton receives praise in the voter guide for criticizing attacks on the Muslim community, but she is criticized for backing government surveillance programs and no-fly watch lists opposed by civil liberty groups.
CAIR conducted a robocall earlier this month urging 150,000 registered voters to go to the polls, and it plans to distribute Mr. Khan’s recorded call to 500,000 voters on Sunday.
Mr. Khan stepped into the national spotlight at the Democratic convention in July, when he told the story of his 27-year-old son, Humayun Khan, who died in Iraq in 2004 saving his troops from a suicide bomber. Mr. Khan challenged Mr. Trump’s knowledge of the Constitution, while brandishing his own copy, and declared that Mr. Trump didn’t know the meaning of sacrifice.
Mr. Trump was widely criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for his response to Mr. Khan, in which he suggested Mr. Khan’s wife, who was standing silently next to him on stage, wasn’t allowed to speak. She later said her grief prevented her from speaking.
The episode marked a turning point in the 2016 campaign, and Mr. Khan’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing since.
In an ad for Mrs. Clinton that began airing a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Khan is shown looking at pictures of his son and other keepsakes.
He is slated to campaign on Friday with Democratic congressional candidate LuAnn Bennett, who is trying to unseat Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock in a northern Virginia district. Ms. Comstock didn’t rule out voting for her party’s nominee until earlier this month, after 11-year-old television footage surfaced of Mr. Trump boasting about groping women.
Article Courtesy: Wall Street Journal
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