Democrats criticized the narrow focus on the Muslim community and urged the committee to investigate the spike in white supremacist groups – and the communities supporting them – as well.
“I cannot help but wonder how propaganda about this hearing, focused on the American Muslim community, will be used by those who seek to inspire a new generation of suicide bombers,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D) of Mississippi, the highest-ranking Democrat on the panel.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D) of Minnesota, one of two Muslims in Congress, shed tears as he described the false charges leveled against Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a first responder who was killed in the 9/11 attacks.
"I am concerned that the focus of today's hearing may increase suspicion of the Muslim American community, ultimately making us all a little less safe," he said.
King challenged critics who claimed that the hearings amounted to a witch-hunt targeting the entire Muslim community.
“There is nothing radical or un-American in holding these hearings,” he said. “Indeed, Congressional investigation of Muslim American radicalization is the logical response to the repeated and urgent warnings which the Obama administration has been making in recent months.”