By Jill Colvin and Julie Shapiro
MANHATTAN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg distanced himself Monday from a Republican Congressman's plans to hold hearings on Muslim "radicalization."
In an op-ed published in Newsday, Long Island Rep. Peter King, who is set to become chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said that as part of his duties, he intends to hold hearings on topics including the "radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism."
"As chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, I will do all I can to break down the wall of political correctness and drive the public debate on Islamic radicalization," he wrote, adding that the hearings are "what democracy is all about."
Asked about the remarks during a press conference at City Hall urging Congress to pass the 9/11 health bill, Bloomberg told reporters that while he agreed with King on many topics, this time around, "I think we probably part company quite severely."
"I don't happen to agree with him that that's necessary, said Bloomberg, who has been a vocal proponent of religious tolerance in the past, including supporting the right of Park 51 to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero — a plan King has vehemently opposed.
King has been criticized for his views on Islam. He even referenced the litany of criticism he's received from groups accusing him of religious intolerance in the op-ed, which ran in print sections on Monday.
"This crowd sees me as an anti-Musim bigot," he said, calling out everyone from the Committee on American Islamic Relations to CNN. King denied the claims in his op-ed and added that he knows the "majority of Muslims in our country are hardworking, dedicated Americans."
Still, he said, with 15 percent of Muslims in America still thinking that suicide bombing is justified, he said, the alienation between Muslims and non-Muslims remains.
"We need to find the reasons for this alienation."