Khizr Khan and Simone Biles among US Medal of Freedom winners

Highest civilian honour given to those who make contributions to American society

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US President Joe Biden on Thursday presented the Medal of Freedom to Khizr Khan, the Pakistani-American father of an Iraq War veteran killed in action who criticised Donald Trump over his proposed “Muslim ban”.

Mr Khan was one of 17 people to receive America's highest civilian honour.

The others included gymnast Simone Biles; the late John McCain, the Arizona Republican with whom Mr Biden served in the Senate; and gun-control advocate Gabby Giffords, a former congresswoman who was shot in the head in 2011.

"The Fourth of July week reminds us what brought us together long ago and still binds us, binds us at our best," Mr Biden said.

Mr Khan's son, US Army Capt Humayun Khan, was killed in Iraq in 2004 while defending his squad from a car bomb attack.

He spoke out against Mr Trump in 2016 over his proposal to limit immigration from Muslim-majority countries. Before moving to the US, Mr Khan had reportedly lived in the UAE.

US President Joe Biden applauds after awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to US Olympic gymnast Simone Biles. Reuters

Olympian gymnast Biles, 25, is the youngest ever Medal of Freedom recipient, Mr Biden said.

She publicly fought against sexual abuse in the US Olympic team and advocated for mental health at the Tokyo Games.

Women's football star Megan Rapinoe is the first US soccer player to receive the honour, which is given to Americans who made "significant societal, public or private endeavours" in the US or globally.

Ms Rapinoe has fought for equal pay when she called out the gender disparity compared with the men's team.

Sandra Lindsay, who received the first Covid-19 vaccine in the US and served as a nurse in New York City in the pandemic, was also awarded the Medal of Freedom.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was honoured posthumously.

Actor Denzel Washington will be awarded after he recovers from Covid-19.

Mr Biden is also a recipient of the Medal of Freedom, given to him by his boss, former president Barack Obama.

Updated: July 07, 2022, 9:42 PM
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