Haim Saban: I'm Not Suggesting We Torture Muslims, but They Should Be Scrutinized

'You want to be free and dead? I'd rather be not free and alive,' Israeli-American billionaire and Hillary Clinton supporter says in aftermath of Paris attacks.

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Haim Saban, July 7 2010
Haim Saban, July 7 2010Credit: Bloomberg

Haim Saban, the American-Israeli media mogul, has told the Los-Angeles based entertainment and website The Wrap that the United States should intensify its scrutiny of Muslims following last Friday's deadly wave of terrorist attacks in Paris.

"I'm not suggesting we put Muslims through some kind of torture room to get them to admit they are or they're not terrorists," he is quoted as telling The Wrap in a story posted Wednesday, "but I am saying we should have more scrutiny." Suggesting that some civil liberties may need to be suspended in the face of security threats, he asked rhetorically: "You want to be free and dead? I'd rather be not free and alive."

"It's a wake-up call. I fully believe we're in a different kind of World War III," said Saban, who is a major supporter of Hillary Clinton in her bid for the White House. "We can't afford [to have] the next president, basically the leader of the free world to be an amateur that has done nothing other than missing votes, or a clown, to be making the decisions as to how to react."

Saban's entertainment and media ventures have included Power Rangers, the Fox Family Channel and the U.S.-based Spanish-language Univision network, as well as Israel's Partner Communications cellular firm. "Many members of the Hollywood community are very liberal and they value their civil liberties more than they value life. I disagree with that," said Saban, according to The Wrap.

Saban later retracted his comment, telling L.A.-based entertainment website The Wrap that he "misspoke.”

In a statement, Saban said: "I believe that all refugees coming from Syria - a war-torn country that ISIS calls home – regardless of religion require additional scrutiny before entering the United States. At this moment in time, with hundreds killed in Paris and thousands more around the world, freedom as we know it is under existential threat. And while in contradiction to our country’s principles in time of peace, I’m comfortable with the government taking additional measures, including increased surveillance of individuals they deem suspicious. Our first priority is to protect the lives of our citizens and no liberty is more valuable than our safety. I regret making a religious distinction as opposed to a geographical one: it’s about scrutinizing every single individual coming from a country with ISIS strongholds.”

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