Pakistani-American Khizr Khan Named to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's Highest Civilian Award
Khizr Khan, a Pakistani-American lawyer, is on President Joseph R. Biden's list of recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award given by the President of the United States. Khan is among 17 Americans on the list that also includes late Senator John McCaine and late Steve Jobs. "These seventeen Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation – hard work, perseverance, and faith," the White House said further. Last year, Khizr Khan was appointed by Biden as an independent commissioner to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
|Khizr and Ghazala Khan|
"They have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities — and across the world — while blazing trails for generations to come".
Khizr Khan, a lawyer, was born in the Pakistani province of Punjab in 1950. He has an LLB degree from the University of Punjab and an LLM degree from Harvard University. His son Humayun Khan was born in Dubai before Khan and his wife Ghazala moved to the United States in 1980. Khizr who lost his son Captain Humayun Khan in the Iraq War in 2004 came to prominence in 2016 when he challenged former President Trump's Muslim ban and Islamophobia. Speaking at the Democratic Party Convention in 2019, Khan made headlines. Here is a oft-quoted passage from that speech:
"Donald Trump, you're asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words "liberty" and "equal protection of law." Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing—and no one".
Trump's vicious attacks on Khan after his Convention speech angered many US veterans and Gold Star parents like Khizr Khan who have lost their children fighting for America. The couple have continued their activism after the events of 2016. They have founded the Constitution Literacy and National Unity Center to increase awareness of the US bill of rights.