WASHINGTON // Donald Trump hit back Saturday at accusations from the father of a slain Muslim soldier that the billionaire has “sacrificed nothing” for his country, saying he had employed thousands of people.
Khizr Khan - whose son died in Iraq - accused the Republican presidential nominee of vilifying American Muslims in a steely rebuke that electrified the Democratic convention on Thursday.
“Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America,” Mr Khan said to Mr Trump.
“You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”
Mr Trump brushed off Mr Khan’s words in an interview with ABC News, insisting he had 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.”
The brash billionaire has alienated many Americans with insults against immigrants, Muslims and women during his nomination campaign.
Among his more controversial policy positions has been his call to ban Muslims from entering the United States and suggestions he would back profiling them.
Mr Trump also questioned whether his rival, Hillary Clinton, had been behind Mr Khan’s address, which the father said he wrote with his wife Ghazala.
“Who wrote that? Did Hillary’s script writers write it?” Mr Trump said in the interview, which is set to air in full on Sunday.
“If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say,” Mr Trump said, adding: “maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”
Reacting to Mr Trump’s comments, Ghazala Kahn said she chose not to speak at the DNC because of her overwhelming grief.
“Sacrifice - I don’t think he knows the meaning of sacrifice, the meaning of the word,” the late army captain’s mother said. “Because when I was standing there, all America felt my pain. Without saying a single word. Everybody felt that pain.”
Her husband said he had invited her to speak, but she declined knowing that she’d become too emotional.
Khizr Khan said that running for president does not entitle Mr Trump “to disrespect” the relatives of soldiers killed in combat.
“Shame on him! Shame on his family!” he said angrily. “He is not worthy of our comments. He has no decency. He is void of decency, he has a dark heart.”
In a statement late on Saturday, Mr Trump praised Captain Khan as “a hero to our country and we should honour all who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country safe”.
However Mr Trump rejected the claim that he had never read the US constitution.
“While I feel deeply for the loss of his son, Mr Khan who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things,” Mr Trump said.
Mr Trump also released what he said was the transcript of the ABC interview.
Mrs Clinton in turn defended the Khans as “the best of America”.
“I was very moved to see Ghazala Khan stand bravely and with dignity in support of her son on Thursday night,” she said in a statement.
“This is a time to honour the sacrifice of Captain Khan and all the fallen. Captain Khan and his family represent the best of America, and we salute them.”
* Agence France-Presse