WASHINGTON - Despite death threats and emotional protests, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., vowed to continue hearings on the threat of homegrown terrorism in the United States.
Thursday's meeting by the House Homeland Security Committee was to investigate "the extent of radicalization of the American Muslim community and that community's response."
King said the hearing was necessary, and he plans to lead more of them in the future no matter the controversy.
"Let me make it clear today that I remain convinced that these hearings must go forward and they will," he said.
"To back down would be a craven surrender to political correctness and an abdication of what I believe to be the main responsibility of this committee -- to protect America from a terrorist attack," he continued.
Click play to John Jessup's report, followed by comments from CBN News Terrorism Analyst Erick Stakelbeck and reaction to the hearing from Christian leaders.
Watch more CBN News analysis of Thursday's talks on homegrown terrorism and whether they will be beneficial here.
Jordan Sekulow, director of international operations with the American Center for Law and Justice, gave more insight to the controversial hearing. Click here for his comments.
But critics and Muslim leaders say the hearings go too far and paint all Muslims as terrorists.
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas, said that tying terrorism to one religion only bolsters al Qaeda's claims that America is anti-Islamic.
"President Obama recognized that through our words and deeds we can either play into al Qaeda's narrative and messaging or we can challenge it and thereby undermine it," she said.
"We are determined to undermine it," she said. "This hearing today is playing into al Qaeda right now around the world."
A new Gallup poll revealed 52 percent of Americans feel the hearings are appropriate, while only 38 percent say they are not.
Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison, D-Minn., condemned the hearing and talked tearfully about a Muslim paramedic who died rescuing people on 9/11.
"Mohammed Amdani was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans," Ellison said. "His life should not be identified as just a member of an ethnic group or just a member of a religion, but as an American who gave everything for his fellow Americans."
Memphis father Melvin Bledsoe talked about how his son Carlos was lured and radicalized by al Qaeda in Yemen, and eventually murdered an Army recruiter in Arkansas.
Bledsoe said Americans must wake up to the threat of what's happening to its young Muslims.
"If I can save one other child from going through what my family's gone through or the victim's family went through, then I think my trip here to this committee was worthwhile," he said.
Muslim Zudhi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy supported the hearing. He said the committee's purpose is not to unfairly single out followers of Islam.
"I don't agree with blind profiling. That's unconstitutional," Jasser explained. "However, smart law enforcement that doesn't waste our resources on investigating people who would not have a high propensity towards radicalization I think is smart also."