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Father of slain US Muslim soldier who taunted Trump to receive highest civilian honour

Khizr Khan made headlines in 2016, asking Donald Trump if he had read the Constitution. 'I will gladly lend you my copy,' he said
Khizr Khan, accompanied by his wife Ghazala Khan, holds up a copy of the US Constitution at the Democratic National Convention on 28 July, 2016 (AFP)

Khizr Khan, the father of a fallen soldier who admonished Donald Trump in 2016, is set to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday, alongside several other recipients. 

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honour in the United States, and is presented to people who have made "exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavours".

"These seventeen Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation - hard work, perseverance, and faith," the White House wrote. 

"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."

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Khan, who is Pakistani-American and Muslim, will be presented with the medal by President Joe Biden on Thursday 7 July. His son, US Army Captain Humayun Khan, was killed in 2004 during the Iraq War. 

In 2021, Khan senior served on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom under Biden. He is also the founder of the Constitution Literacy and National Unity Center.

Khan made headlines at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016 when he called out Trump - then the Republican presidential candidate - for supporting the Muslim Ban.

"Tonight we are honoured to stand here as parents of Captain Humayun Khan and as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to the country," he said in front of the world's cameras. "If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America. Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims.

"You," he said, addressing Trump directly, "have sacrificed nothing and no one."

Khan didn't stop there in his infamous remarks. "Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you - have you even read the United States Constitution?" he said, brandishing a copy to loud cheers. "I will gladly lend you my copy!" Khan said.

Trump later responded, saying: "I work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I've had tremendous success. I think I've done a lot."