Khizr Khan on the eve of Donald Trump's inauguration: "We remain vigilant"

Source: AP
Source: AP

With Donald Trump just hours away from becoming the leader of the free world, one of his most famous opponents, Khizr Khan, says he remains "concerned" about how the new president will shape America.

"I remain concerned for my nation. I remain concerned for democracy," Khan said in a phone interview Tuesday. 

The Gold Star father became something of a national sensation after an impassioned speech at July's Democratic National Convention, in which he spoke to the memory of his son, the late Army Capt. Humayun Khan. He also called out Trump for maligning Muslims, famously pulling out a copy of the U.S. Constitution and offering to lend it to Trump.

Khan even inspired a movement encouraging him to run for office himself.

Khan's words riled up Trump, who later criticized Khan's wife for standing silently beside the podium during her husband's DNC address, implying she was not "allowed" to express herself.

Khizr Khan and his wife, Ghazala Khan, appeared at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
Source: 
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Asked if he might attend Trump's Friday inaugural for any reason, Khan, a Pakistan-born legal consultant who lives in Virginia, demurred.

"I am nobody," he said. "I'm an ordinary citizen and I have not been invited, so it makes no difference whether I come or go, but I have no interest in attending."

But Khan, who had just finished addressing students at a summit organized by the progressive group People for the American Way, told Mic he wasn't utterly without hope for the incoming Trump team.

"I was heartened to hear that most of the prominent nominees of this administration denounce and distance themselves from the rhetoric of the election," Khan said, referring to Trump's cabinet picks disagreeing with the president-elect on major issues.

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions wouldn't come out in support of a Muslim ban.
Source: 
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

He pointed to Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, who pushed back against the idea of a Muslim ban during his nomination hearing: "He said, 'Oh, no, no, no, we don't want to do that. Not all Muslims are that way and I'm not for that,'" Khan recalled.

Khan was "delighted" to hear Sessions reject the idea of keeping Muslims out of the U.S. as a matter of national security, as Trump had proposed on the campaign trail. Still, he said with skepticism, Sessions could have taken that stance merely "for expediency purposes to move the nomination process." 

"I remain concerned for my nation. I remain concerned for democracy."

As Trump prepares to take the oath of office, demonstrators are already taking to the streets of Washington, D.C., with protests expected to continue throughout the weekend in cities nationwide.

Khan said he and others who have spoken out against Trump for his apparent disregard of the Constitution "will continue to voice our opposition and our concern" under the new president, and do so partly in the spirit of civil rights leaders of the past. 

"Even today, it is because of them that we are the way we are," Khan said.

"We remain vigilant, [and] we will not let anyone take us back."

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Celeste Katz

Celeste Katz is senior political correspondent at Mic, covering national politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at celeste@mic.com.

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