Muslim Convention, Attended By Khans, Brings Measured Criticism of Trump | WBEZ
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Muslim Convention, Attended By Khans, Brings Measured Criticism of Trump

Khizr and Ghazala Khan were the special guests at an Islamic convention on Saturday in suburban Chicago. It was a politically charged appearance, but the couple did not address the election that thrust them into the national spotlight.

The Khans made international news at the Democratic National Convention in July when they spoke about their son, a Muslim-American soldier who died in combat in Iraq, and criticized Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Ghazala Khan did not speak at the convention, instead standing silently by her husband’s side on stage. But on Saturday in Rosemont, she spoke first.

“I have to speak today,” Ghazala Khan joked to the Islamic Society of North America convention crowd, “I just say thank you very much for the love and respect and understanding.”

After the speech in Philadelphia, Trump attacked Ghazala Khan, questioning whether she was “allowed” to speak by her husband. But in her brief remarks, she focused on the positive response the couple had gotten.

“I haven’t imagined this. This is all from Allah. He made the path that we have to walk, and I’m grateful for all of you, and all of America, and all of the world, for the love,” Khan said. “Really. I feel so close to you guys. I imagine that I have given one son and I got that many back.

Khizr Khan’s speech mostly addressed Muslim scholars and leaders in attendance.

“We are of the belief, and I am sure the rest of you are-- that ink of the pen of the scholars is more sacred than the blood of the martyr. So congratulations for leading us in this trying time. There comes a time in each group of believers historically when they are tested, and this is the time that the Muslim faith is being tested,” he said.

Other than Ghazala Khan’s opening sentence, neither of the Khans referred to their time at the convention or Donald Trump’s criticism.

But Laura Sarsour, head of Arab American Association of New York, didn’t shy away from politics when she introduced the Khans. She praised Khizr Khan for being “unapologetically Muslim,” then criticized Donald Trump without using his name.

“We don’t need no man who’s trying to be the next President of the United States of America tell me nothing about America being great because I and you have made this nation the nation that it is today,” Sarsour said.

Azhar Azeez, President of the Islamic Society of North America, opened the luncheon with a politically charged statement of his own:

“Of course as a non-profit organization, we don’t endorse any political party or any political candidate,” Azeez said.

“But definitely. we encourage you all. Each one of you are very wise individuals, You know who to pick to represent you for the next term,” he told the crowd of about 400.

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