Washington: In a fresh attack on Donald Trump's poll rhetoric, the parents of a fallen Pakistani-origin American soldier have blamed the controversial Republican presidential nominee for the growing intolerance towards Muslims in the US.
Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the 'Gold Star' parents whose appearance at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia created a firestorm for Trump, have said they felt compelled to speak out because the welcome they felt when they immigrated to the US nearly four decades ago is eroding in the face of this year's presidential campaign.
"You see people wearing scarves, people are pointing fingers at them and throwing them out of flights and calling them names when they pass by and all of that," 66-year-old Khizr Khan said.
"Most Americans are against this kind of nonsense, but there is an element that has gotten voice, has been encouraged by this political rhetoric, and especially this election season has made it worse," he said.
Khan said Trump's call to ban all Muslim immigrants - a position the Republican nominee has since modified - and his provocative statements against Mexicans and others bear some of the responsibility for a loss of civility and restraint.
"The voices that wouldn't dare because they were afraid of the decent America to condemn them...Have gathered courage to show their ugliness," he said.
After their appearance at the Democratic Convention, Trump complained that Khan unfairly had attacked him and questioned why Ghazala Khan had not spoken on stage.
Ghazala said the photo of her son Humayun Khan projected behind them would have made her break down in tears.
Humayun, a US Army captain, died in Iraq in 2004.
During the past year, the Khans said they have heard rising fears from Muslim friends and family members, especially children.
"For the whole year last year, we have been sitting very quietly like many, many, many American citizens, watching this political process take shape, watching the disrespect of Donald Trump, him disrespecting immigrants, Muslim immigrants, women, judges, even senior members of his own party," Khan said.
The Khans said they hope to continue speaking out during the campaign. They do not rule out doing political events for Hillary Clinton, although they say her campaign has not asked them to do so. PTI