Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton
Donald Trump and Hilary ClintonPhoto: Reuters

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Sunday accused her Republican rival Donald Trump of scapegoating the parents of a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq, after Trump took issue with remarks the soldier's father made at the Democratic National Convention, Reuters reports.

Trump, in an ABC interview that aired on Sunday, questioned why Ghazala Khan, mother of U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, stood quietly by her husband, Khizr Khan, as he took the stage at last week's Democratic convention in Philadelphia.

Trump suggested the mother might not have been "allowed" to speak.

He also rejected Khan's claims that Trump had "sacrificed nothing" for his country, saying he thinks he has made "a lot of sacrifices".

On Sunday, speaking at a church service, Clinton lashed out at Trump and said he had been insulting to a family who had sacrificed so much. She also used the episode to contrast her own religious faith with that of Trump, who has spoken of religion on the campaign trail infrequently.

"I don't begrudge anyone of any other faith or of no faith at all, but I do tremble before those who would scapegoat other Americans, who would insult people because of their religion, their ethnicity, their disability," Clinton said, according to Reuters.

Earlier on Sunday, Ghazala Khan took up her own defense in an opinion piece in the Washington Post, saying her husband had asked her in advance whether she would want to speak at the convention but she had decided she would be unable to do so on stage because of her pain over the 2004 death of her son.

"Donald Trump said that maybe I wasn't allowed to say anything. That is not true," she wrote. "When Donald Trump is talking about Islam, he is ignorant."

In his interview Trump had cast doubt on why Khan's wife did not speak.

"She was standing there, she had nothing to say, she probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me," Trump said, according to Reuters.

Trump on Sunday tweeted that Khan's son had died 12 years ago: "Captain Khan, killed 12 years ago, was a hero, but this is about RADICAL ISLAMIC TERROR and the weakness of our "leaders" to eradicate it!"

He also tweeted that he had been "viciously attacked" by Khan at the convention. "Am I not allowed to respond?" he asked.

Meanwhile, Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, said he sympathizes with the Khan family but that their loss is not the issue at hand.

The issue really is radical Islamic jihad and the risk to the American homeland," he was quoted as having said, defending Trump's proposal to suspend immigration from some geographic regions.

"He (Khan) is not the issue. We all feel sorry for what he went through," Manafort added, according to Reuters.