A Muslim immigrant from Pakistan on the national stage! – I was delighted to see that last night at the Democratic National Convention.
As has been widely noted, one of the convention’s high points was Khizr Khan’s talk about his son, Humayun Khan, a captain in the United States Army who was killed in 2004 after heroically stepping forward to question a suspicious-looking vehicle in Iraq, upon which those inside blew him up with their suicide vests.
Khizr Khan delivered his remarks with intensity and dignity. Their major import was to highlight the contribution and loyalty of Muslim Americans in the face of skepticism and hostility, especially as voiced by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“Tonight we are honored to stand here as parents of Captain Humayun Khan and as patriotic American Muslims – with undivided loyalty to our country,” he said, with his wife standing sorrowfully beside him. His scolding of Donald Trump was well deserved, but I was especially glad about his self-presentation as a USAmerican Muslim.
As soon as Khan began speaking I was certain the family was originally from Pakistan, despite commentators’ comments, true, that they had immigrated from the United Arab Emirates. And, sure enough, it turns out that they are originally from Pakistan, and it seems they must have arrived in the USA in about 1979. Many Pakistanis do move to the UAE, sometimes for long periods of time, sometimes briefly as they prepare for a permanent move elsewhere. The Khans, obviously, followed the latter pattern.
Khizr Khan presented himself very well as a Muslim USAmerican citizen, and he spoke movingly about the patriotism of his son Humayun. His witness was a powerful antidote to the anti-Muslim sentiment being stoked by many.
Pakistan frequently comes in for similar suspicion and hostility, partly for the extremist violence with which some in Pakistan express their Islam. Khizr Khan’s words were a good antidote to that hostility as well.
I was glad for the Muslim testimony. I was proud that it came from a Pakistani.