By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The father from the family that criticized Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention was given the Courage in Public Service award during the Arab-American Civil Rights League Gala Sept. 29.
Gold Star father Khizr Khan and his wife Ghazala Khan first caught the public’s eye in July they gave the speech at the convention slamming the Republican Party presidential candidate for his comments on all minorities.
During the speech Khizr Khan pulled out a copy of the U.S. Constitution from his pocket and questioned Trump claiming he didn’t understand its values.
At the fifth annual Fight for Justice Gala at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, more than 800 copies of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were given to those in attendance.
“We live in an unprecedented time where hate by ignorance is flourishing,” ACRL Chairman Nasser Beydoun said. “We must embrace diversity and dialogue to build bridges with communities of color.”
The Khans lost their son, Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim solider in the U.S. Army, while he served in Iraq 12 years ago.
While giving his speech at the gala, Khizr Khan thanked all Americans who served and currently serve in the military or public law enforcement.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the young men and women who wear the uniform in defense of this country and those in law enforcement,” he said.
Khizr and Ghazala Khan were born in Pakistan before moving to the United Arab Emirates and then to the United States. Khizr Khan went on to study law at Harvard Law School to become an attorney.
He encouraged the participation in democracy to those in attendance in order to make their voices heard.
“It doesn’t matter how small your contribution is, whether you volunteer your time, efforts or your resources,” he said. “It is all in service of your country, strengthening your country and its democracy.”
He then went on to call this presidential election a historic one and refused to name specific names, but said “one is for the values of this country. On the other hand, we have a candidate who espouses bigotry, misogynistic attitudes and ideas. We are not for that. We are not for building walls, we are not for divisions.”
Khizr Khan then shared a secret for the upcoming presidential election.
“National elections are not won by simply lots of people showing up to vote,” he said. “In our democracy it is precinct by precinct by precinct. Make sure this election you go to your precinct with this thought in mind that today I am going to stand for the values of America, for the values that we practice in this community.”
Finally, Khizr Khan praised Dearborn and called it a model city because of its ability to welcome and embrace all faiths, religions and cultures.
“Interfaith relations in this community are exemplary, the interracial relations,” he said. “I want to take this example of this city wherever I go. I shall speak and I shall cite your example to the rest of the country, to the rest of the world.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)