Gold Star father Khizr Khan, a Muslim-American who made headlines for his stance against Islamophobia in President Donald Trump’s campaign, blamed anti-immigration rhetoric for the Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque shootings that killed at least 49 people Friday.
“This half-baked thinking about immigration is nothing but hatred towards immigrants, hatred towards others,” he told CNN’s Michael Smerconish on Saturday, identifying it as “the same hate that caused” the 2015 attack on black worshippers in Charleston, South Carolina, as well as the 2018 attack on a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, synagogue.
However, Khan also argued that American foreign policy feeds into the cycle of hatred by creating instability that prompts immigrants to flee, speculating that most would prefer to be home rather than living in the U.S.
“But it is the destabilization caused by the West throughout the world...that is causing this immigration and this hatred, this white supremacy, this evil of our time is exploiting that immigration and that issue to their advantage to spew hate and to create division,” he said.
Despite the alleged New Zealand shooter’s promotion of white supremacy, which is evidenced in part by what a manifesto shared on Twitter describing hatred for Muslim immigrants while celebrating U.S. extremist movements, Trump claimed on Friday that he doesn’t really see a rise in white nationalism.
“I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess,” he said during a White House press conference. “If you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet. … But it’s certainly a terrible thing.”
Before Trump had even made the remarks, Council on American-Islamic Relations Executive Director Nihad Awad cautioned him against being vague, demanding an outright denunciation of the massacre as a “white supremacist terrorist attack.”
“You have to be very clear on this,” he said.
Further confirming his link to hateful ideologies, the alleged shooter appeared in court hours after the attack, flashing a white power sign with his right hand.