(RNS) When Donald Trump disparaged the parents of fallen Army Capt. Humayun Khan, he didn’t just pick a fight with the Khans. He now faces the ire of hundreds of Muslim American women.
It started when Trump responded to the Khans’ appearance on Thursday (July 28) at the Democratic National Convention.
During that appearance, Humayun Khan’s mother, Ghazala Khan, stood beside her husband silently as he criticized Trump. In an interview with ABC News, the Republican presidential nominee suggested that Ghazala Khan was not permitted to speak, presumably because of her religion.
“If you look at his wife, she was standing there,” said Trump. “She had nothing to say. … Maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.”
Khan said she declined to speak because she was emotional over the loss of her son, who died in 2004 in Iraq.
“Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart,” she wrote in The Washington Post. “Walking onto the convention stage, with a huge picture of my son behind me, I could hardly control myself. What mother could?”
Now, Muslim women around the country — lawyers, entrepreneurs, teachers, activists, artists, mothers and students — are using the trending hashtag #CanYouHearUsNow on social media to address Trump’s comments, as well as the popular notion that Islam oppresses women.
“I’m running a trauma center, making life saving split second decisions. Make no mistake — my voice is heard,” Los Angeles-based doctor Almaas Shaikh tweeted.
“I became a journalist to pursue transparency to clarify misrepresentations. Misrepresentations that (you) shamelessly create,” NPR’s Noor Wazwaz told Trump on Twitter.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has pushed the campaign as well, calling on Muslim women to join the Twitter storm by “sharing the various ways they speak out every day.”
“As the leader of America’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, I urge Donald Trump to apologize for his shameful remarks disparaging a Muslim Gold Star family and for his repeated use and promotion of anti-Muslim stereotypes,” CAIR board chair Roula Allouch said in a statement. “Just as Donald Trump must apologize for his un-American remarks, Republican Party leaders must finally repudiate their candidate’s divisive rhetoric.”
Prominent Muslim American women such as Arab American Association of New York director Linda Sarsour, social activist Hind Makki and Institute for Social Policy and Understanding research director Dalia Mogahed have joined in, as well as the Muslim Public Affairs Council and other groups.
“Donald Trump needs to move his understanding of Islam and Muslims beyond the stereotypes,” said Rabiah Ahmed, MPAC media director. “Our campaign is one way for us to showcase who we are and what we stand for.”
Trump has previously called for a “total and complete” ban on Muslim immigration to the U.S., said he would implement a database to track Muslims Americans and claimed he watched thousands of Muslim Americans celebrating the 9/11 terrorist attacks. U.S. Muslim leaders have condemned all three statements.
“When I think of Muslim women, I think of all the beautiful women who are working hard everyday to spread good and change the world for better,” Fatima Salman, executive director of the Muslim Students Association National and a member of the Islamic Society of North America’s Executive Council, said in a statement. “This campaign is designed to show Donald Trump and the rest of America this reality.”