WASHINGTON – A London-to-Washington flight was diverted to Maine on Tuesday when it was discovered passenger Yusuf Islam ó formerly known as singer Cat Stevens ó was on a government watch list and barred from entering the country, federal officials said.
The AP ends their article with:
Islam drew some negative attention in the late 1980s when he supported the Ayatollah Khomeini’s death sentence against Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses. Recently, though, Islam has criticized terrorist acts, including the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the school seizure in Beslan, Russia, earlier this month that left more than 300 dead, nearly half of them children.
Stevens/Islam did not support the death sentence. Here he is in his own words:
Yusuf Islam Talks about the Satanic Verses Controversy
By Yusuf Islam
March 12th, 2003
Firstly, it is very difficult to educate people in the midst of a political battlefield of smoke and antagonization, which is what I believe represented the atmosphere between the West and Iran back in the early 1990ís when I simply attempted to answer a question presented to me during a lecture.
Sadly, 14 years later and right up to today, some people still try to connect me to this issue, whereas I had nothing really to do with it; I was tricked and foolishly fell for the trap.
My view today with regard to respect for treaties and international law has obviously developed since those early days of ëfire and brimstoneí; the keeping of the peace and respect for the sacred is to me at the heart of Islamís and other Religionís prohibition against Blasphemy. But there are deep legalistic questions connected to this subject of which there can be many views, this is not necessarily the subject of this particular essay.
SoÖback in February 1989 I was delivering a talk about my journey to Islam at Kingston University in London, when somebody (probably a disguised journalist) mischievously posed a question about Islamís view on apostates and blasphemers. As a student who had studied the issue for the first time, I simply did my best by answering direct from legal texts which I had read.
Instead of reporting my response in context, which I naively expected, suddenly the headline in next dayís paper read ìCat Says Kill Rushdie!î Well, needless to say, all hell then broke loose and my political education had really begun. Thank God the newspaper responsible, Today, has since folded and is now out of circulation; unfortunately the monstrous myth it created still survives.
What I actually tried to do at the lecture in Kingston, and subsequently during other interviews, was to quote ëfrom the bookí what Islam says about the legal consequences for someone who commits blasphemy within the context of Islamic law where it is adopted and applied, I never ever sanctioned people taking the law in their own hands or overstepping the laws of the Britain which is what the Fatwa of Ayatollah Khomeini proposed. The truth is I never once stated support for the ëFatwaí
I was simply a new Muslim who had stated something which I considered quite plain and obvious and if you were to ask a bible student you know what the Ten Commandments were you would expect him to repeat them honestly, you wouldn’t blame him for doing so; the Bible is full of similar headlines if youíre looking for them.
Here’s Google’s Cache of this as I am currently having difficult accessing the original. (Probably lots of people are going to the domain this morning.)
His being on the watch list probably has more to do with Israel’s 2000 claim that he financially supported Hamas. Yusuf Islam denied this, or at least said it was unintentional…which isn’t of course the same thing. But there are Muslim charities that advertise themselves as humanitarian, but support terrorist organizations like Hamas.
The question arises — does someone who vocally supports peace, and vocally criticizes terrorism — deserve to be on a watch list if he gave money to an organization that funded terrorists, if he was unaware that the money might end up there?