Members of Congress advised President Obama Sunday to engage the Muslim world in the wake of Usama bin Laden's death - but also, one Congressman said, not to forgo a relationship with Israel.
Obama will deliver a much-anticipated speech sometime in the coming days and is expected to stress that the terrorist mastermind's death should signal a new age in the Muslim world - one more in line with democratic the uprisings that have swept the Middle East in recent months.
"He needs to reaffirm and confirm the message that America is not, and never will be, at war with any religion, including Islam - but we are at war and are going to fight terrorists like al-Qaeda and Usama bin Laden," Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said on 'America's News Headquarters.' "Although bin Laden is gone, his philosophy is alive and his followers are still out there, and we need to engage the Muslim world."
"Every American president, going back to Bill Clinton, President Bush and President Obama, have made it clear we are not at war with Islam," said Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who went on to stress that Obama should also reach out to Israel as well as the Arab world.
Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, and King have previously clashed on Islamic issues in the past, most notably on the plans to build an Islamic cultural center near ground zero, and on King's hearings on radical Islam in America earlier this year.
Ellison said that the president should stress an having a broader relationship with the Arab world, including student exchanges, increased commercial trading and democracy-building activities.
"There are a whole wide range of opportunities that the president has in front of him," Ellison said. "One of the successful things that the president has done is an entrepreneurial summit for people who are from the Muslim world...this is the kind of thing that I hope he builds on."
King, however, said that Obama should focused on improving relations with Israel, saying he thought Obama had been "rude" to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visited the White House recently. Obama is scheduled to host Netanyahu again this week.
"I think the president really hurt our relationship with Israel back in 2009," King said, adding that Obama had suggested a "moral equivalency" in the U.S.'s relationships with Israel and with countries like Iran and the Hamas-led Palestine. "It's one thing to reach out to people who are maybe hostile to you, but you shouldn't be turning your back on your closest ally."
King did agree with Ellison on building a broader relationship with Arab countries, but stressed that the U.S.-Israeli relationship shouldn't fall by the wayside.
"With the Arab spring, we do want to encourage entrepreneurship, and a closer relationship with whatever new government comes in in Egypt," he said.
But, he added, mentioning a spate of recent violence in the region, "we cannot allow that to go on."