Gov. Nikki Haley, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and other South Carolina Republicans jumped to the defense of Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the grieving parents of a Muslim soldier who died defending the United States.
The Khans, from Pakistan, have been subject to scrutiny by Donald Trump and his supporters since they took to the stage of the Democratic National Convention Thursday to denounce the Republican presidential nominee for his proposed ban on Muslim immigrants.
“As a member of a military family, and the governor of a proud military state that has been recognized as the most patriotic, my heart and my unending thanks go out to the Khan family for their enormous sacrifice for our country,” Haley said in a statement Monday. “As far as I’m concerned, they have the standing to say whatever they want in the political process and should not face criticism for it.”
After Khizr Khan rebuked, among other things, Trump’s Islamophobia, at the Democratic National Convention, Trump suggested that Gazala Khan mutely standing beside her husband as he spoke had something to do with Islamic culture which oppressed women. Later in a television interview Gazala Khan said she didn’t speak at the convention as it is very difficult for her to control her emotions with her slain son’s photos displayed on the podium screens. Following what seemed like a national outrage, Haley joined the chorus of Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Rayn, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Jon McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham, denouncing Trump’s disparaging remarks and praise the sacrifice of Humayun Khan and his family.
Haley’s husband Michael is a captain in the South Carolina Army National Guard and a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan. Despite her criticism, however, Haley remains in lock step with the Republican national leadership in not withdrawing her support for Trump’s candidacy, which President Obama said renders GOP leaders’ criticism of Trump’s egregious comments and positions as “hollow.”