Billionaire Haim Saban walks back call for greater scrutiny of Muslim refugees

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Haim Saban, the Israeli-American billionaire who is a major backer of Hillary Rodham Clinton, said he did not mean to suggest that Muslims entering the United States from Syria should be subject to greater scrutiny.

“I misspoke,” Saban, an entertainment mogul, told TheWrap, an entertainment news website in an interview on Nov. 19.

“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,” he said. “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.”

In an earlier interview with TheWrap, Saban had said he was ready to sacrifice some liberties for security.

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“The reality is that certain things that are unacceptable in times of peace — such as profiling, listening in on anyone and everybody who looks suspicious, or interviewing Muslims in a more intense way than interviewing Christian refugees — is all acceptable [during war],” he said. “Why? Because we value life more than our civil liberties and it’s temporary until the problem goes away.”

He added: “I’m not suggesting we put Muslims through some kind of a torture room to get them to admit that they are or they’re not terrorists. But I am saying we should have more scrutiny.”

Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, backs President Barack Obama’s plan to bring in 10,000 Syrian refugees from that country’s civil war over the next year.

Virtually every GOP candidate has called for the refugee plan to be paused if not scrapped, and several, including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have said that if the United States is to take in refugees, they should be Christians.

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