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Dead Muslim soldier’s father shakes up US presidential race, Donald Trump faces flak from his own party

India TV News Desk Washington 01 Aug 2016, 18:41:02 PM IST
India TV News Desk

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's comments against father of a slain Pakistani-origin American Muslim soldier appears to have shaken the US presidential race as his own party leaders came out openly against the gaffe-prone candidate. 

While House Speaker Paul Ryan said a "religious test" for entering the US is "not reflective of the country's fundamental values", former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said the reality TV star's remarks were "disrespectful" in targetting a family that endured the "ultimate sacrifice" for the country. 

Ryan hailed Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004, and said America's greatness is built on the principles of liberty and preserved by the men and women who wear the uniform to defend it. 

"As I have said on numerous occasions, a religious test for entering our country is not reflective of these fundamental values. I reject it," he said in a statement. 

"Many Muslim Americans have served valiantly in our military, and made the ultimate sacrifice. Captain Khan was one such brave example. His sacrifice - and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan - should always be honoured. Period," he said. 

Governor John Kasich of Ohio, a former Republican presidential candidate, tweeted: "There's only one way to talk about Gold Star parents: with honour and respect. Capt. Khan is a hero. Together, we should pray for his family." 

Kasich was joined by Bush on Twitter in slamming Trump. "This is so incredibly disrespectful of a family that endured the ultimate sacrifice for our country," said Bush, who badly lost the Republican primary to Trump. 

In an interview to CNN, Senator Jeff Session who was among the first few top Republican leaders to endorse Trump said that he "rejects" and is "disappointed" over the remarks made by the billionaire from New York against Khan. 

The 70-year-old real estate tycoon sparked controversy last week when he lashed out at Humayun's father Khizr Khan over his speech on Thursday at the Democratic National Convention in which he was highly critical of Trump and said that the billionaire has "sacrificed nothing" for the country. 

Khizr Khan fiercely attacked the billionaire businessman Thursday at the convention in Philadelphia, saying that if it were up to Trump, his son never would have been American or served in the military.

Honoring his son, Khizr Khan pulled a copy of the Constitution out of his suit pocket and offered to lend it to Trump.

"Look for the words 'liberty' and 'equal protection of law,'" he said standing next to his wife, waving the paperback document vigorously.

"Have you ever been to Arlington cemetery?" he then asked. "Go look at the graves of brave Americans who died defending United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing," Khan said while his wife, Ghazala, stood quietly by his side.

A day later, Trump hit back, saying he created thousands of jobs and questioned whether his wife was even "allowed" to speak, triggering a national outrage following which he later called Humayun a "hero". 

"If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me," Trump said, to which Ghazala replied that she didn't speak because she's still overwhelmed by her grief and can't even look at photos of her son without crying.

"I've made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures," Trump said.

He, however, continued to criticise Khizr, drawing a flood of criticism yesterday. 

Trump's comments sparked immediate outrage on social media, including from Republican strategists, who criticized Trump both for attacking a mourning mother and because many considered them racist and anti-Muslim.

Many criticised him both for attacking a mourning mother and because many considered the remarks racist and anti- Muslim, especially because they came from someone who has called for a ban on Muslims entering the US. 

"I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic Convention. Am I not allowed to respond? Hillary voted for the Iraq war, not me!" 

Trump tweeted, even as his running mate came to his rescue giving another set of clarification. 

"Donald Trump and I believe that Captain Humayun Khan is an American hero and his family, like all Gold Star families, should be cherished by every American," Mike Pence, the Republican vice presidential nominee, said as the national outrage over Trump's comment refused to die down.