Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for U.S. president, is facing harsh criticism from both Democrats and Republicans over comments he made about the grieving Muslim parents of a U.S. Army captain who was killed in Iraq.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate for the presidency, accused Trump of making “degrading comments about Muslims” after the soldier's Pakistani-born father and naturalized U.S. citizen, Khizr Khan, spoke out at last week's Democratic National Convention against Trump and his proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from the United States.
On July 31, Khan called Trump a "black soul" and said Republican Party leaders should distance themselves from the Republican candidate.
Khan, whose son Humayun was killed in Iraq in 2004, said at the Democratic convention that Trump had “sacrificed nothing and no one” for the United States.
During the speech, Khan's wife, Ghazala, stood quietly by his side.
Trump, who avoided being drafted during the Vietnam war with four student deferments and a medical disqualification, responded to Khan's speech by saying: “I think 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. I've had tremendous success. I think I've done a lot."
Trump also said: "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."
Ghazala Khan spoke out against Trump in a July 31 Washington Post opinion piece, saying that she declined an offer to speak at the Democratic convention because talking about her son’s death is still difficult for her.
She also said Trump does not know what it means to make a sacrifice and that “when Donald Trump is talking about Islam, he is ignorant.”
Clinton on July 31 said Trump has a "total misunderstanding" of American values and has inflamed divisions in American society.
She said Trump's character is questionable because he repaid a family that made the "ultimate sacrifice" with "nothing but insults" and "degrading comments about Muslims."
John Weaver, a Republican strategist for Ohio Governor John Kasich said: "Trump’s slur against Captain Khan’s mother is, even for him, beyond the pale. He has no redeeming qualities."
Matt Mackowiak, another Republican strategist, said there was "only one response for Trump to the criticism: 'As an American, I deeply appreciate the patriotic sacrifice of the Khan family'."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan -- both Republicans -- have praised the sacrifices of the Khan family and Muslim Americans in the U.S. armed forces.
They both also issued fresh statements rejecting Trump's proposal to impose religious tests for entry into the United States, saying the idea is against American values.
They also called for Americans to honor the Khan family.
But both McConnell and Ryan stopped short of criticizing Trump by name for his remarks.
The Senate's Democratic leader, Harry Reid, said in a statement on July 31 that the top Republicans in Congress should revoke their endorsements of Trump.
He said saying anything less would be "cowardice."
Reid says "this shouldn't be hard" and called Trump "a sexist and racist man who insults Gold Star parents, stokes fear of Muslims, and sows hatred of Latinos."
Reid also said Republican leaders have "a moral responsibility" to say that Trump shouldn't be president.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP