Washington (CNN)- Republican Rep. Peter King of New York says "something from within" the Muslim community is a "threat" to America that needs to be explored.
The issue will be discussed in the upcoming week as King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, holds hearings on the radicalization of Muslim Americans. Democratic Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, openly disagreed with the premise of the hearings as King gave a preview Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley of what will be discussed Thursday on the Hill.
"I challenge the basic premise of the hearings," Ellison said. "We should deal with radicalization and violent radicalization, but that singling out one community is the wrong thing to do."
But for King, the goal is to investigate the source of the "threat." He compared the goal of the hearings to investigating the Mafia within the Italian community or going after the Russian mob in "the Russian community in Brighton Beach and Coney Island."
"We're talking about al Qaeda," King said. "There's been self radicalization going on within the Muslim community, within a very small minority, but it's there and that's where the threat is coming from at this time."
Ellison discussed "worry" among Muslim Americans who are concerned about the "breadth" of the investigation. He agreed with King's right to investigate radicalization as the chairman for the Homeland Security Committee, but cautioned that "To say we're going to investigate a– religious minority, and a particular one, I think is the wrong course of action to take."
And though Ellison is opposed to the premise behind the hearings, he said he will testify. "I believe in engaging the process. I think you've got to be involved in the conversation, you've got to offer an alternative view."
But he also voiced concern over whether the hearings would fuel Islamaphobia, saying, "I don't want [terrorists] to be able to stand up and claim …we told you, America is at war with Islam. That's one of their main recruiting arguments."
"We need to be careful about how we use the instrumentality of the government in investigative hearings," Ellison added.
For the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, the hearing will speak for itself. "I would say, let the people watch the hearing and decide then," King said.
"It's going to go forward," he said, "and it's going to talk about something which is not being talked about publicly which I think should be."
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