01/25/2011 12:24 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Keith Ellison Responds To Allen West Jab: 'More Respectful And Productive Public Dialogue,' Please

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) responded to harsh criticism from Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) Tuesday, saying that his Tea Party-backed colleague's comments were unexpected, incorrect and counterproductive in terms of increasing civil discourse between politicians.

On Monday, an interview emerged showing West decrying Ellison, one of two Muslims in the House, as representing "the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established."

Ellison responded Tuesday in a statement to ThinkProgress:

I was surprised to hear of Congressman West's comments because he has never expressed these sentiments to me directly.

Contrary to the views expressed by Congressman West, I work to represent the highest ideals of our great nation - ideals like freedom of worship and respect for all faiths, equal protection under the law as well as a civil and open public discourse.

I call on Americans of all colors, cultures and faiths to turn to each other, not on each other, especially in the renewed spirit of finding a more respectful and productive public dialogue.

Americans across the country want their public servants to reject the toxic and corrosive chatter that yields more heat than light. I hope to have a productive and respectful dialogue with all of my colleagues, including Allen West.