Last week, a Muslim American couple appeared on stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Ghazala and Khizr Khan had been invited by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to tell the world about their son, Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004 while serving in the US army.
Khizr Khan delivered a powerful speech, full of loving pride for his son and fury at Donald Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric. “You have sacrificed nothing and no one,” he said, his voice cracking as he addressed Trump directly. “We cannot solve our problems by building walls and sowing division. We are stronger together.”
It was one of the most potent moments of the current US presidential campaign. But when asked what he made of Khizr’s speech, Trump did what he does ‘best’: aggressive defensiveness, with a touch of racist stereotyping. “She was standing there, she had nothing to say,” he said, referring to Ghazala. “Maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”
Ghazala later hit back at Trump’s criticism in an essay for the Washington Post, stating that her silence was a result of her grief – not because she “wasn’t allowed” to speak. But by suggesting that Ghazala’s husband had denied her a voice, Trump was attempting to exploit the idea of Muslim women, particularly those who wear hijab, as oppressed and voiceless victims.
But now, Muslim women around the world have been speaking out against this stereotype on social media – using the hashtag #CanYouHearUsNow.
The women shared their personal and career achievements, giving examples of when and why they speak out. Like the Khans, many of them challenged Trump to try and match the contributions they’ve made to society.
Who knows: maybe Donald Trump, who seems to spend an awful lot of time on Twitter, will have been given some food for thought. But that might be a little too much to ask.
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