Paul Hopper
Paul Hopper [link]
21 September 2004 @ 23:05:00
Cat Stevens a threat to U.S. national security!?
I'm sorry, but I have a hard time believing that the guy who wrote songs like "Peace Train" and "Morning Has Broken" is a threat to U.S. national security. So was he denied entry to the United States just because he's a famous Muslim opposed to the Iraq War? Pft!

The Former Cat Stevens Gets Plane Diverted
Yahoo! News [link]
by Leslie Miller, Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, September 21, 2004

WASHINGTON - A plane bound for Washington from London was diverted to Maine on Tuesday after passenger Yusuf Islam — formerly known as pop singer Cat Stevens — showed up on a U.S. watch list, federal officials said.

United Airlines Flight 919 had already taken off from London en route to Dulles International Airport when the match was made between the passenger and the watch list, said Nico Melendez, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration.

The plane was met by federal agents at Maine's Bangor International Airport around 3 p.m., Melendez said.

Federal officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, identified the individual as Islam.

One official said Islam, 56, was identified by the Advanced Passenger Information System, which requires airlines to send passenger information to U.S. Customs and Border Protection's National Targeting Center. TSA was then contacted and requested that the plane land at the nearest airport, the official said.

"He was interviewed and denied admission to the United States on national security grounds," said Homeland Security spokesman Dennis Murphy. He said the man would be put on the first available flight out of the country Wednesday.

Islam, who was born Stephen Georgiou, took Cat Stevens as a stage name and had a string of hits in the 1960s and '70s, including "Wild World" and "Morning Has Broken." Last year he released two songs, including a re-recording of his '70s hit "Peace Train," to express his opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

He abandoned his music career in the late 1970s and changed his name after being persuaded by orthodox Muslim teachers that his lifestyle was forbidden by Islamic law. He later became a teacher and an advocate for his religion, founding a Muslim school in London in 1983.

Islam recently condemned the school seizure by militants in Beslan, Russia, earlier this month that left more than 300 dead, nearly half of them children.

In a statement on his Web site, he wrote, "Crimes against innocent bystanders taken hostage in any circumstance have no foundation whatsoever in the life of Islam and the model example of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him."
Current Music: Cat Stevens - Morning Has Broken
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BLACKberry [link] on September 21st, 2004 - 13:30:06 ET
That's Hard Core
The Peace Train Guy? That's just wrong.
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Paul Hopper [link] on September 22nd, 2004 - 04:12:00 ET
Re: That's Hard Core
Yeah, from what I've read, they say that he's contributed to terrorist organizations, including Hamas, but I always see that as an unproven allegation. On the other hand, he publicly denounced the 9/11 attacks and donated the royalties from a boxed set released after soon after 9/11 to the September 11th Fund for victims' families.

When Salman Rushdie published his controversial novel The Satanic Verses, Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) publicly stated that Rushdie had committed blasphemy and, according to Islamic law, deserved to be sentenced to death. That's pretty extreme, but, then again, I think it was just this past week that Jimmy Swaggart said that if any gay guy looked at him "like that", he'd "kill him and tell God he died".

My impression — and, admittedly, I don't know the man personally — is that Yusuf Islam is a peace-loving person who takes his religion, in my opinion, too seriously at times and I'm glad that U.S. law is not derived from Islamic law. (I'm also glad Jimmy Swaggart doesn't write our laws.) But I'm skeptical that there were any good reasons for not letting him into the country.
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