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Khizr Khan speaks at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Biden announced Friday that he will appoint Gold Star father Khizr Khan, who famously criticized former President Trump during the 2016 campaign, to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Why it matters: Khan's son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed on the battlefield in Iraq in 2004. Khizr Khan made waves during the 2016 Democratic National Convention when he called out Trump for his disparaging rhetoric about Muslim Americans.

  • Speaking alongside his wife, Ghazala, Khan held up a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution and questioned whether Trump had ever read it.
  • "Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery?" Khan asked from the podium. "Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing — and no one."
  • The Khans then became a frequent target of Trump, who falsely implied that Ghazala Khan did not speak at the 2016 DNC because of her Muslim faith.
  • Khan endorsed Biden ahead of the 2020 election.

The big picture: Biden also appointed Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, a spiritual leader at New York City's Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, to serve alongside Khan and other commissioners.

  • The president nominated Rashad Hussain, director for partnerships and global engagement at the National Security Council, as ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom.
  • He also nominated Deborah Lipstadt, renowned Holocaust scholar at Emory University, as special envoy and with the rank of ambassador to monitor and combat antisemitism

What they're saying: "Today’s announcement underscores the President’s commitment to build an Administration that looks like America and reflects people of all faiths," the White House said in a statement.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.

3 hours ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.

By the numbers: Catholics, Biden and abortion

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Biden — the second Catholic U.S. president — will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, as some church leaders debate whether to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

By the numbers: Overall, two in three U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to take Communion despite his stance on abortion, according to polling by Pew Research Center.