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September 21, 2004 9:24 PM   Subscribe

Cat Stevens on NatSec watchlist. "A London-to-Washington flight was diverted to Maine on Tuesday when it was discovered passenger Yusuf Islam - formerly known as singer Cat Stevens - was on a government watch list and barred from entering the country, federal officials said... Homeland Security Department spokesman Dennis Murphy identified the passenger as Islam. 'He was interviewed and denied admission to the United States on national security grounds,' Murphy said, and would be put on the first available flight out of the country Wednesday."
posted by mwhybark (79 comments total)

 
Countless examples of editorial snarking and linkage were discarded in the realization that this is best served cold.
posted by mwhybark at 9:26 PM on September 21, 2004


Er, sorry, should have been "HoSec," my bad.
posted by mwhybark at 9:27 PM on September 21, 2004


ATTN PASSENGER STEVENS: GET OFF THE PEACE PLANE
posted by bingbangbong at 9:55 PM on September 21, 2004


Oh, I'm bein' followed by a moonshadow
Moonshadow, moonshadow
Leapin' and hoppin' on a moonshadow
Moonshadow, moonshadow


Obviously a threat to our nation.
posted by Down10 at 9:57 PM on September 21, 2004


DANGAR! TERRAR! REPEL THE BEAST!
posted by quonsar at 9:59 PM on September 21, 2004


Anything that keeps Cat Stevens out of the USA is fine by me.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:04 PM on September 21, 2004


Perhaps they mixed up the word "buildin" with
something else?

"Well, I think it's fine Buildin' jumbo planes"





Where Do the Children Play

Well, I think it's fine
Buildin' jumbo planes
Or takin' a ride
On a cosmic train.
Switch on Summer
From a slot machine.
Yes, get what you want to, if you want,
'Cause you can get anything.

[Chorus]
I know we've come a long way.
We're changin' day to day,
But tell me, where do the children play?

Well, you roll on roads
Over fresh green grass
For your lorry loads
Pumpin' petrol gas
And you make them long
And you make them tough,
But they just go on and on, and it seems
That you can't get off.

[Chorus]

Well, you've cracked the sky.
'Scrapers fill the air,
But will you keep on buildin' higher
'Til there's no more room up there?
Will you make us laugh?
Will you make us cry?
Will you tell us when to live?
Will you tell us when to die?

[Chorus]

[Until end: "Do, do, do, do, do..."]
posted by thedailygrowl at 10:05 PM on September 21, 2004


This is not a war against Islam... but Cat Stevens and Tariq Ramadan can't come to the USA.
posted by cell divide at 10:08 PM on September 21, 2004


I wrote him off when he supported the murder of Salman Rushdie. But I'm yielding now, especially as I hear that he spoke out against the WTC attacks. Who knows. But my God, I was a pre-teen when "Teaser and the Firecat" came out, and, you know, at that age certain records are influential, to say the least. That one was. "If I laugh". Man.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 10:09 PM on September 21, 2004


Anything fucking else? God, I am so tired of this nonsense every fucking day. Where have all the sensible people in the US gone to? Okay, I'm done being expressively outraged.
posted by Boydrop at 10:12 PM on September 21, 2004


I don't want to hear anymore about the government bailing out bankrupt airlines. They make no one want to use air travel.
posted by fleener at 10:17 PM on September 21, 2004


Where have all the sensible people in the US gone to?

Gone to Canada, me thinks.

/sticks out thumb
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:17 PM on September 21, 2004


Turtles: He denies supporting the fatwah.
posted by raysmj at 10:19 PM on September 21, 2004


I was going to say something about how I could understand them prohibiting somebody who had proclaimed a fatwah from coming in the country, but raysmj is right. He never did.

Google Cache of his Press release from 1989
posted by destro at 10:52 PM on September 21, 2004


Say, wasn't Mr. Yusuf Stevens deported from Israel for allegedly donating large sums of money to Hamas?

Care to name a good reason why he should *not* make a government watch list?
posted by Krrrlson at 10:56 PM on September 21, 2004


Care to name a reason *you* should not?
posted by mwhybark at 10:57 PM on September 21, 2004


I regret that.

What I meant to say was, "Here's one: watchlists are an ill-advised invasion of civil liberties that inevitably undermine free societies via the imposition of the politics of suspicion and condemnation."
posted by mwhybark at 11:03 PM on September 21, 2004


Also, here's your link.
posted by mwhybark at 11:06 PM on September 21, 2004


Well, you're lucky I took my time thinking of the best way to snark back. Now, as to your revised comment - there's no doubt that such watch lists *can* be a threat to civil liberties, and we can get into the specifics of current US procedure (which I admit needs lots of work) to no end. However, if I learn that a person has financially supported terrorist organizations, I see no problem with monitoring that person within my national borders or barring him from entering the country.

Now before someone points it out, I do see a problem with detaining every guy named Yusuf Islam on the face of the earth, or shipping him off to Gitmo and holding him there indefinitely without trial, etc, etc.

But, based on the information currently available to me, I can't fault the US for this incident.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:18 PM on September 21, 2004


Turtles: He denies supporting the fatwah.

Except that he did in fact express personal support for the fatwah:
The musician known as Cat Stevens said in a British television program to be broadcast next week that rather than go to a demonstration to burn an effigy of the author Salman Rushdie, ''I would have hoped that it'd be the real thing.'' ... He also said that if Mr. Rushdie turned up at his doorstep looking for help, ''I might ring somebody who might do more damage to him than he would like.''

''I'd try to phone the Ayatollah Khomeini and tell him exactly where this man is,'' said Mr. Islam, who watched a preview of the program today and said in an interview that he stood by his comments.
He may not like how the press portrayed him or what a big to-do it became, but they did accurately report his views.
posted by boaz at 11:33 PM on September 21, 2004


He never did.

Wtf? I followed your link and call nonsense to that press release. I distinctly remember seeing him on television supporting the Ayotollah's call for the murder of Rushdie. I recall him specifically saying he would surrender Rushdie if he knew his location.

The release is making it sound like he was quoted out of context, which, if I recall correctly, he was not in the clip I saw. His words were very blunt and hardly vague in their interpretation.

On preview, boaz beat me to it.
posted by dobbs at 11:41 PM on September 21, 2004


Yusuf Islam has been on the wrong side of some issues, on the right side of others, like a lot of people probably. He is guilty of making some extreme statements, and it could be that he is a somewhat unstable person, or someone prone to extremist sympathies. He did give money to fairly mainstream Middle Eastern charities that then sent money to organizations like Hamas, extremist Iranian groups, Kashmiri, and other Jihadis (along with sending the majority of their donations to non-political or exteme groups).

But I think it's pretty obvious that the man is not a 'threat' to Americam or to Israeli citizens. No one is safer that he is not in the country. No one has accused him of being a member of any terror organization or even a known direct supporter of any such group. He is a minor political threat because he was very famous in the past, his music is still somewhat popular, and he's a known Westerner who seems to be on the Eastern 'side'. Not a major threat, but one that can be harassed and denied entry to certain places without serious international or financial repercussions. It's just a move in order to show, in a high profile way, what the country considers the 'right' way to behave for the unpowerful. One can bet that if he was a major shareholder in a large oil company, such minor offenses would not be considered so serious as to deny entry.
posted by cell divide at 11:54 PM on September 21, 2004


One high-profile activity was the founding of a Muslim school in London.

Whooooo scary!
posted by DrDoberman at 1:13 AM on September 22, 2004


all artists are unstable tragic accidents
posted by Satapher at 1:38 AM on September 22, 2004


On the bright side, this will undoubtedly give him a boost in publicity, which will lead to more record sales, which will lead to a big fat check.

Cat, well known philanthropist that he is, will then be able to donate more money to Muslim charities. Everybody wins!
posted by Optamystic at 2:20 AM on September 22, 2004


Turtles: You made my day. First person I've ever heard mention "If I Laugh", a track I still love.

What puzzles me, didn't he KNOW he would be turned back? How silly is it to have such a list, yet let people get on their plane in the first place? Hrmph, just to create the press story, to raise the illusion the govmint is doing something for security?

Its a shame he supported that fatwah. Seems terribly uncivilized. But I don't know from Islam. I'd like to have Mr. Islam explain it to me himself, I hear he's qualified. (if you read this, I'm leaving England in 2 weeks)
posted by Goofyy at 2:33 AM on September 22, 2004


I think it says something about the religion of Islam that it can take a man with a wonderful heart and promoter of peace and turn him into someone who supports a murderous fatwah against an author along with donating money to a known terrorist group that advocates suicide bombings by women and children.
posted by Meridian at 3:07 AM on September 22, 2004


From the Guardian link
Islam (Stevens) had visited New York in May to promote a DVD of his 1976 MajiKat tour.

Interesting ; assuming the Guardian is correct, Stevens either wasn't a threat to national security in may and now he is, implying that something new and relevant was discovered (which would imply ongoing investigations on him)OR the big electronic brother didn't track him during the may travel.

Also interesting is that the threat he poses is, apparently, so high that the flight had to be diverted....I don't see any other possible reason for questioning him in Maine instead of waiting for the fly to reach Washington and stop him at disembarkment (which would be a sensible thing to do as a real terrorist on flight would notice the deroute and possibily react in a unpredictable way).

So what did Stevens do to warrant the rerouting ?
posted by elpapacito at 3:23 AM on September 22, 2004


Yes, undoubtedly Stevens/Islam flew over here to strangle Rushdie with his bare hands.

The fact that we are even debating the virtues of this idiocy means that the terrorists have won -- those in Afghanistan, and those in Washington.
posted by digaman at 3:56 AM on September 22, 2004


I can see how this fellow holds mighty good tickets to be declared persona non grata by quite a few countries in the world. Some of his music is very nice, but that just doesn't cut it.

However, this being spastically enforced by an administration that refuses to come clean about it past (and maybe present) deals with terrorists (to name only one aspect of it all) is absolutely insane.
posted by magullo at 4:32 AM on September 22, 2004


"I think it says something about the religion of Islam that it can take a man with a wonderful heart and promoter of peace and turn him into someone who supports a murderous fatwah" - Meridian, you're so deliciously off base that were you not to exist, I should have need to invent you.

So, without further ado.....

The teachings of Jesus Christ - noble doctrines of love which often fall by the wayside in the daily march of human hatred : ".....The [ Christian ] Church has also been on the wrong side of the social sciences for over 1,500 years, actively promoting slavery, anti-Semitism, the torture and murder of women as witches, sexual repression, censorship and the Inquisition, Crusades and other aggressive wars, and capital punishment for misdemeanors. This has given rise to a Christian field called apologetics, which attempts to defend the Church's errors, even claiming that science and Christianity are compatible friends, not enemies. But the atrocities and scientific errors were too profound, and stretched on for too many millennia, to be defended in any reasonable manner."

Continuing a long tradition (as well represented by this museum collection of Christian torture devices used during the various Inquisitions ), "Born Again" George W. Bush Refuses to Denounce Torture.

"The inside of the sarcophagus was fitted with spikes designed to pierce different parts of the body, but miss the vital organs, so that the victim was kept alive, in an upright position. It's second feature is that the victims were kept in an extremely confined space to increase their suffering. It's third feature was that the device could be opened and closed without letting the victim, who had been pierced from the front and the back, get away. It's fourth feature was that the container was so thick that no shrieks and moaning could be heard from outside unless the doors were opened. "
_______________

A biased pagan screed on Christianity : "The Inquisition is irrefutable proof of the wickedness of the religion that created it. This holy court was presided over by the holiest of men, under the direct control of their holinesses the popes. It was the most infamous instrument of injustice and the most terrible indictment of Christian “love” the world has ever seen. Christian popes and scholars perpetrated atrocities in comparison with which the persecutions of early Christians by the Roman authorities is a drop of blood in a barrelful, and which have been exceeded in intensity in the west only by Hitler’s holocaust against Jews, communists, gypsies and homosexuals..."

________________________

Modern crimes against humanity by Christians : "Graduates of the School of the Americas (SOA) have committed some of the most egregious human rights abuses in Guatemala’s bloody history, including torture, murder, disappearances, displacement, and genocide. In fact, the military’s gruesome history still haunts Guatemalan civil society. Many of those responsible for the country’s worst acts against humanity continue to hold positions of power in the government and military."

Efrain Rios Montt - "Born again" Christian mass-murderer

Christian torture in Guatemala - a personal testimony : "Take my case, for example. In 1989, while I was working as a missionary in Guatemala, I was abducted and brutally tortured by Guatemalan security agents. My back was burned over 100 times with cigarettes. I was gang-raped repeatedly. I was beaten, and I was tortured psychologically, as well--I was lowered into a pit where injured women, children, and men writhed and moaned, and the dead decayed, under swarms of rats. Finally, I was forced to stab another human being.

Throughout the ordeal, my Guatemalan torturers said that if I did not cooperate, they would have to communicate with Alejandro. My last few minutes in detention, I met Alejandro, whom the torturers referred to as their boss. He was tall and fair skinned and spoke halting Spanish, with a thick American accent. His English was American, flawless, unaccented. When I asked him if he was an American, his answer was evasive: "Why do you want to know?"....."


( from the testimony of a Christian, Sister Dianna Ortiz, CONGRESSIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS CAUCUS BRIEFING ON TORTURE June 25, 1998)

______________________________

This should go without saying, but let me make it explicit :

I could quickly produce similar evidence for the crimes of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism even.......pick your religion!

The singling out of Islam - as an especially wicked religion, is done by some quite consciously towards the incitement of religious hatreds and conflict and this - antithetical to the teachings of Jesus - is inherently anti-Christian ( and anti-Islamic as well ). Some with good intentions are unwittingly tricked into joining this campaign of hatred and so may merely be confused.

But make no mistake about this : the incitement of human hatred is considered, in the doctrines of all of the major world religions, as a great evil.

"[Huston] Smith has devoted his life to the study of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Hinduism. He believes in them all. "Every society and religion has rules, for both have moral laws. And the essence of morality consists, as in art, of drawing the line somewhere."
posted by troutfishing at 5:24 AM on September 22, 2004


The last I heard, Yusuf Islam realized he'd been had by a bunch of Wahabbists and retracted his support for the fatwah. I don't know if this is still true, but he was teaching preschoolers in a Muslim day school in England.

Sure sounds like a serious player in terrorism circles to me.
posted by alumshubby at 5:28 AM on September 22, 2004


troutfishing
Very good post. I should go back and replace "religion of Islam" with "arbitrary belief system" since all such systems can be used to justify and encourage violence and hatred against others, whether they be of a different religion, race, political party or sexual preference.

So what is the element of commonality that gives them such influence over human behavior?
posted by Meridian at 5:34 AM on September 22, 2004


I heard Stevens on NPR's "Fresh Air" back in 1999 or 2000 saying the Taliban had been unfairly smeared by the media. Nevertheless, this is America and he has the right to believe whatever he wants.
posted by inksyndicate at 6:41 AM on September 22, 2004


Re: His press release.

1) I also seem to remember actual footage of him saying something like that quoted above, personally informing on Rushdie - though I suppose it could have been vivid press accounts combined with my vivid imagination.

2) I find it inappropriately amusing that he doesn't know how to spell "fundamental."
posted by soyjoy at 6:59 AM on September 22, 2004


Hmmm, actuall maybe we're on to something here.... is there a way we can get Limp Bizkit and Hoobastank added to that watch list? Perhaps we've finally found a way to save rock-n-roll.
posted by spilon at 7:05 AM on September 22, 2004


...he has the right to believe whatever he wants.

not anymore, he doesn't
posted by bshort at 7:06 AM on September 22, 2004


Er, yeah, you're right.
posted by inksyndicate at 7:08 AM on September 22, 2004


He was on the list for giving $ to certain suspect charities. Is this the level of "violation of freedom" feared from the Patriot Act? Seems like a pretty low-level problem....
posted by ParisParamus at 7:09 AM on September 22, 2004


Now if they could just do something about Jimmy Buffet and his army of fat men in Hawaiian shirts.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:24 AM on September 22, 2004


Given that the Reagan administration banned Farley Mowat in the 1980s for being, errrr, a lefty writer, maybe this is progress.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:42 AM on September 22, 2004


I like and admire Yusuf Islam's recordings as Cat Stevens (like others, I'm the "right age" for them to have been meaningful to me as an early adolescent), but the last time I checked, this was still the United States of America, not Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan or, Heaven help us, France. We still presumably allow people to hold opinions and to support organizations that hold opinions that are different and even at odds with the majority view.

If donating funds to charities that downstream divert money to terrorist activities were actually to be enforced as a treasonous act, every person who ever gave a quarter to Plant a Tree in Israel would be guilty of the same offense and should be, immediately and without trial or recourse, put on a plane and dumped off in Tel Aviv. Yusuf Islam, however, appears to have the bad luck of supporting the currently fashionable boogeymen, his fellow Muslims, so the United States of Hypocrisy refuses him entry into our lily white Christian-but-Jews-are-OK-if-they-shave-their-sideburns stronghold... As the famous Republican Christian leader Jimmy "Jesus Don't Mind None iffen ya Kill a Homo!" Swaggart would say, Where's the outrage?!
posted by JollyWanker at 7:47 AM on September 22, 2004


troutfishing, I love you.

Which would, in certain Christian circles, get me killed -- like within arm's reach of Bush-endorser Jimmy Swaggart.
posted by digaman at 7:49 AM on September 22, 2004


Mr. Yusuf Islam, née Mr. Cat Stevens, née Mr. Stephen Georgiou.
/insert P. Diddy joke here.
posted by naxosaxur at 8:11 AM on September 22, 2004


Wouldn't it be cool if converts to Christianity changed their names to "Joe Christian"?
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:11 AM on September 22, 2004


Have a look at the man's thoughts on Beslan:

http://www.yusufislam.org.uk/beslan.shtml
posted by Optamystic at 9:11 AM on September 22, 2004


I'd like to see if Mr. Islam is permanently denied entry to the US, or whether some work with the State Dept. fixes things. I suspect the latter.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:18 AM on September 22, 2004


Where have all the sensible people in the US gone to?

Certainly not California.
posted by Witty at 9:53 AM on September 22, 2004


If Cat Stevens is outlawed than only outlaws will have Cat Stevens.
posted by drezdn at 10:00 AM on September 22, 2004


Witty - California Uber Alles!


posted by troutfishing at 10:24 AM on September 22, 2004


Umm, omfg? I hate to say it folks but I feel like there are going to be domestic CIA assassinations again soon. Don't say I didn't warn you. It just seems like the logical next step...

you know how it goes: first you start removing them from your country because they're "dangerous," then just gather them up into jails for nothing at all and make them work for you as slaves, and then comes the killin'
posted by zekinskia at 11:47 AM on September 22, 2004


So what did Stevens do to warrant the rerouting ?

Probably planning a jam session with Syrian musicians.
posted by terrapin at 11:58 AM on September 22, 2004


Cat Stevens? You mean the guy who in the wake of 9/11 spoke out loudly against the terrorists and denounced the fatwa against Rushdie? Who came out of retirement to sing "Peace Train" and raise money to support the victims of 9/11, even though radical Islamists routinely harass and kill popular musicians? The one who donated a portion of his royalties for his box set to the 9/11 fund? The one doing AIDS benefits for Africa with Bono, Sting, Paul McCartney, and Nelson Mandela? That Cat Stevens?!

Yeah. He sounds almost as dangerous as John Lennon was...
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:40 PM on September 22, 2004


Have a look at the man's thoughts on Beslan:
http://www.yusufislam.org.uk/beslan.shtml


Every other sentence within his discourse is a quote from the Qur'an. If he was quoting from the Bible to the same degree, we'd all be dismissing him as a dogmatic, lunatic fuckwad...
posted by naxosaxur at 12:41 PM on September 22, 2004


troutfishing - so it sounds like you would agree with the following statement: it is problematic when the followers of a religion adhere to the barbaric standards and practices common to the ancient times and middle ages. Now, given that Islam today appears to have the highest proportion of politicians, clerics, and other visible figures of authority who support and endorse such barbaric (by our standards, of course) practices, and that from what we can see of the rest of the population, moderates are either few in number or not sufficiently vocal, would you deny that there is a problem with the followers of Islam today (leaving aside for the moment the question of whether the problem is with the religion or the way it is interpreted)?


We still presumably allow people to hold opinions and to support organizations that hold opinions that are different and even at odds with the majority view.

Presumably, financially supporting terrorist organizations that "hold different opinions" may pose a problem, no?
posted by Krrrlson at 1:17 PM on September 22, 2004


Actually, OpinionJournal.com suggests he supports a lot of odious orgs big time. KEEP HIM OUT.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:35 PM on September 22, 2004


So he quotes from the Qur'an as a way of showing that what happened at Beslan had nothing to do with true Islam... big deal. Does that justify kicking him out of the country as a security risk?

Why aren't we holding our government responsible for proving the case against Yusuf Islam? Nevermind. I'll answer that one myself.

"Oh, we can't ask them for proof. Disclosing such evidence would jeopardize national security..."

We should call this what it is. A witch trial.

The Bush regime have built a great pyre around the rotting corpse of Joseph McCarthy, and are fanning the flames. It is the same kind of bullshit that they tried against John Lennon. It's the same kind of bullshit that led countless innocent Americans to be blacklisted. It's the same kind of idiocy that drove the brilliant Charlie Chaplin out of our country. It's unamerican.

Have they no decency? The truth is Yusuf Islam is at heart a shy, spiritual musical genius. He never asked to be the spokesman for Islam, but God called to Yusuf in a deeply personal level through the religion of Islam, and Yusuf answered, in the same way that God calls to people through Christianity, Catholicism, and Judaism in this country every day.

If our media turns to shy, standoffish Yusuf Islam for his thoughts on issues involving Islam, it is because we are so fundamentally disconnected from the Islamic culture that we need an "ambassador to Islam"... and apparently we need them to be white, and to speak with a proper white person's accent in order to be acceptable. We cannot turn to those Islamic Americans who have been a part of our country for generations, as they have duskier skin, and more pronounced accents. The message from our media is clear -- it does not matter if they are first, second, or third generation Americans. This is war. Their loyalty is in doubt and they are not to be trusted.

Shame on America.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:43 PM on September 22, 2004


ParisParamus -- You're a citizen of Israel, and presumably have links to several notable Jewish groups or organizations, right?

Can you prove to us that you have no direct links or indirect ties to Jewish or pro-Israeli organizations that are suspected of promoting espionage and anti-American activities against the citizens of the United States?

Under such circumstances, would it be unreasonable for the FBI to begin questioning Jewish Americans who may have closer ties to such organizations, or to possible spies? Perhaps it would be advisable for our country to create secret lists of those Israeli and Jewish citizens who could be potential threats to the national security of our country?

Just sayin'...
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:12 PM on September 22, 2004


denounced the fatwa against Rushdie?

The only problem is that he didn't denounce it; he just baldly lies (again) and claims he never supported it, when his own words from that time tell a distinctly different story: that he felt it was justified and that he would assist in carrying it out if given the opportunity. More here:
Yusuf's response to this situation is to call for a change in international law. He speaks euphemistically of Rushdie, ensuring that he never actually mentions his name nor that of The Satanic Verses, while making it obvious who and what he means.

When I point out that Rushdie has not contravened any laws of this country, Yusuf says: 'Yes, but you have extradition. And if the extradition request is there . . .' Presumably he means from Iran, a country not renowned for displaying the most stringent respect for international law
So obviously he never for a second supported the fatwa. *rolls eyes* It's a real shame he can't visit our lovely country, but, jeez folks, let's call a fundie a fundie already.

On preview: right i_lj, and Swaggart is nothing but a fun-loving heterosexual who got called by god on an intensely personal level.
posted by boaz at 2:14 PM on September 22, 2004


The truth is Yusuf Islam is at heart a shy, spiritual musical genius who happens to support murder in the name of his religion and provide fundies with the money to commit it.

Can you prove to us that you have no direct links or indirect ties to Jewish or pro-Israeli organizations that are suspected of promoting espionage and anti-American activities against the citizens of the United States?

Read: AIPAC is equivalent to Hamas. Bonus points for linking to the Arabic Media Internet Network for an objective overview of the issue.

Nothing new here, move along.
posted by Krrrlson at 2:33 PM on September 22, 2004


"The only problem is that he didn't denounce it; he just baldly lies"

Yes, actually, he did denounce it, both when the media first distorted what he said, and more recently in the wake of 9/11.

"I never actually supported the fatwa. Not many people know about that because they never read my original statement. What they remember are the headlines, which were made up, and which really didn't belong to me, but were made up from other people... look, you wouldn't ask a Christian to deny, for instance, one of the the Ten Commandments. I as a new Muslim couldn't really deny certain laws within Islam, but as for asking or calling people to assassinate people outside of the law, to take the law into their own hands, I didn't accept that at all, and I never supported the fatwa."

According to any reasonable interpretation of Islam, Rushdie did indeed commit blasphemy. That said, Cat Stevens also said...

"that is not to say I am encouraging people to break the law or take it into their own hands: far from it. One must not forget the ruling in Islam is also very clear about adultery, stealing and murder, but that doesn't mean that British Muslims will go about lynching and stoning adulterers, theives and murderers. If we can't get satisfaction within the present limits of the law, like a ban on this blasphemous book, 'Satanic Verses' which insults God and His prophets - including those prophets honoured by Christians, Jews as well as Muslims - this does not mean that we should step outside of the law to find redress."

To me, this sounds similar to when Christians called The Last Temptation of Christ blasphemous, but somehow managed not to lynch Martin Scorsese in the streets of New York City.

So, I guess you're the one who is misinformed on the matter.

"Read: AIPAC is equivalent to Hamas."

I guess you could read it that way, so long as you put words in my mouth and deny the repeatedly documented fact that on several occasions in their history, AIPAC has been the go-between on supported Israeli espionage efforts in the United States.

AIPAC isn't Hamas. Also, Yusuf Islam was never accused of giving money directly to Hamas. He was accused of giving money to an organization which apparently has ties to Hamas. That's a very different thing indeed, and very easy to do when the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. was accused of having ties to Hamas and then shut down without trial. Indictments are only now funneling in on these kind of cases, so chances are good that all Yusuf Islam did was give money to a charity which has been accused -- not convicted -- of giving money to Hamas.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:53 PM on September 22, 2004


According to any reasonable interpretation of Islam, Rushdie did indeed commit blasphemy

Bullshit. According to any reasonable interpretation of Islam, Rushdie wrote a novel (read: work of fiction) in which he played with parallels of certain themes of the Prophet's life. He was not writing about the Prophet or his wives and there is no blasphemy involved. Many reasonable Muslims took this view at the time. Of course, unreasonable Muslims who were itching to make an example of some famous person to raise their own profile took a different view.

It's quite clear that Stevens/Islam, despite his later self-serving statements, did support the fatwa. So what? Does expressing an opinion make him a terrorist? I'd hate to be held to account for every intemperate opinion I've expressed over the years -- and I'd say most people who post to MeFi are in the same boat. It's called freedom of speech, folks. We're supposed to enjoy it here.
posted by languagehat at 4:10 PM on September 22, 2004


It's a real shame he can't visit our lovely country, but, jeez folks, let's call a fundie a fundie already.

so all fundamentalists are out? who's making these fucking rules?

as if it couldn't get any more embarrassing to be an American ...
posted by mrgrimm at 4:20 PM on September 22, 2004


"It's quite clear that Stevens/Islam, despite his later self-serving statements, did support the fatwa."

Cite the evidence, please. I've already given you a statement of Yusuf Islam's made at the time of the supposed support for the fatwa categorically rejecting that ordinary people kill Rushdie, which was, after all, what the fatwa was all about.

If you were accused of something, you'd want the evidence to be laid out before being denounced, right? Give Stevens/Islam the same right and do the work. Don't assume the media is going to do it for you, because their track record really does not support such blind faith.

"So what? Does expressing an opinion make him a terrorist?"

In the US, that answer is apparently yes. So does donating to charities which, despite the obvious good work that they do, are accused of (not convicted of) funneling *some* money to terrorists.
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:54 PM on September 22, 2004


I fail to understand how quoting Stevens arguing (in 2001 mind you, not 1989) that killing blasphemers is central to Islam in the same way that the Ten Commandments are to Christianity helps your argument. That makes him sound like a complete psycho.

On preview: Ah, so the excuse is, he wanted Rushdie dead, but he didn't personally tell people to kill Rushdie. That's hardly a comforting distinction.
posted by boaz at 5:12 PM on September 22, 2004


It's also funny that he had been a Muslim for over a decade at the time but refers to himself as a "new Muslim". Shades of Henry Hyde's 41 year old youthful indiscretion.
posted by boaz at 5:16 PM on September 22, 2004


Yusuf Islam was never accused of giving money directly to Hamas.

A law enforcement official who asked not to be identified said the United States had information that Islam, who visited the United States in May, had donated money to the militant Islamic group Hamas. Now I grant you that it's possible, even likely, that this donation was funnelled through a Hamas front. Although I find it highly unlikely that Yusuf didn't know what he was doing, this donation makes him, in your very best scenario, a dangerous idiot.


So does donating to charities which, despite the obvious good work that they do, are accused of (not convicted of) funneling *some* money to terrorists.

I can think of few things worse than an organization that sponsors murder under the guise of charity. In your own example, the Holy Land Foundation has allegedly encouraged making suicide bombers of the very same orphans they claimed to be helping. Where's the "obvious good" here, exactly?
posted by Krrrlson at 6:03 PM on September 22, 2004


I can think of few things worse than an organization that sponsors murder under the guise of charity.

So you would be equally outraged at a charity than sent any money to the JDL, yes?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 6:07 PM on September 22, 2004


The accusation against Yusef Islam is that in 1988, he made a donation to a humanitarian organization which supposedly rerouted the money to Hamas.

This donation, intended for humanitarian purposes and made 16 years ago, was used as a rationale by the Israeli government to kick Yusef Islam out of their country.

It doesn't matter that Yusef Islam donated thousands to the 9/11 victims, to AIDS relief, or to many other worthwhile causes. It doesn't matter that he has come here several times in the past few years, and regularly for decades. He made a donation 16 years ago which *may* have been routed to Hamas without his knowledge, and as such, he must be punished... not by Israel, but by the US.

In other words -- witch hunt.

It could've happened to any other follower of Islam, but it is happening to Yusef Islam because he is high profile, critical of Israel's policies in the Arab world, and, most likely, because we've adopted Israel's own enemy's list verbatim.

So, let's talk seriously about what kind of a threat Yusef is to our country. Would he, Bono, and Sting hijack a plane together? Did they check his shoes for bombs and confiscate his nail clippers?!
posted by insomnia_lj at 6:58 PM on September 22, 2004


It's a real shame he can't visit our lovely country, but, jeez folks, let's call a fundie a fundie already.


tres bien! Lets kick out GW, Jerry Falwell et all.... it would be an acceptable trade off
posted by edgeways at 7:37 PM on September 22, 2004


The accusation against Yusef Islam is that in 1988, he made a donation to a humanitarian organization which supposedly rerouted the money to Hamas.

And now, the quote from your own link:

The article by Jake Tapper claims that Stevens, who changed his name to Yusef Islam in 1977, gave the money to Mouhammad Abdel- Rahman, a son of the notorious blind sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

"We don't think this - we know it," Israeli government spokesman Daniel Seaman tells the magazine.


Yep, this has humanitarian cause written all over it.


So, let's talk seriously about what kind of a threat Yusef is to our country. Would he, Bono, and Sting hijack a plane together?

Evidently we differ in our opinions as to the danger posed by those who support terrorism in word and deed, so let's leave it at that. I will however agree with one of your points - yes, it is ridiculous that this happened only because he is high profile. It should be happening to many more terrorist financers, who I suspect cross the US border unimpeded every day.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:52 PM on September 22, 2004


who happens to support murder in the name of his religion and provide fundies with the money to commit it.


do you mean like the many GOP millionaire supporters?
the ones who happily finance the men who gave the world this nice, perpetual War On Islam?
bah.
one day you'll see that these War On Terrah people are (just like the fundy settlers and their enablers) the ones who damaged Israel -- the only place you care about, as it is you're right of course kkkrrrlson -- the most. but then, it'll be too late, not just for Israel, I'm afraid. it's a bad, bad, bad idea to declare war on 1.3 bn people, some of them with nukes, when what you need to do is eradicate a few thousand terrorists. you'll see. bad idea. and I don't mean ethically, you guys never care about such things. on a pragmatic level, it's a bad idea. it's an unwinnable war, or winnable with a not-sustainable number of civilian casualties (Western ones, the only ones you care about) in a not-sustainable number of years. hence you lose in either case.

it's also nice to notice how one of the damned lib'ruls nightmare scenarios -- "relocation" camps for American Muslims, like FDR did to those clearly evil Japanese Americans once upon a time -- will soon become reality. you mark my words: when America is hit again on a 9-11 level it's Gitmo time for the Muslim Americans. I bet there's some place Allah-knows-where, maybe in Alaska, where Defense Department lawyers can dream up another legal no-man's-land.
Gitmo Time in the Land of the Free. it's probably a good punk band name, too.

have something real to nail Cat Stevens? Indict him, try him (maybe with a defense lawyer present, you know), and convict him. if you have the evidence. otherwise, for legal civilized nations he's innocent, and harassing him is bad: bad law enforcement, bad PR, bad politics.
not to mention, diverting a flight because of an unarmed man who may have been given money to the bad guys (like Bush's Saudi buddies regularly do) makes you look like a laughinstock in front of the world. wait until he's landed, question him, send him back if you're dying to.

but then, one needs a modicum of brains to grasp such concepts. no time to use one's brains when there's a War going on.
posted by matteo at 2:57 AM on September 23, 2004


So then, matteo, the only standard sufficient for disallowing entry into a sovereign country is enough evidence to try and convict?
posted by Dreama at 4:01 AM on September 23, 2004


dreama - I'd point out that George W. Bush has pardoned known terrorists and also allowed them into them US

"The accusation against Yusef Islam is that in 1988, he made a donation to a humanitarian organization which supposedly rerouted the money to Hamas." - Yusef Islam's questionable judgement is diddly-squat compared to George W. Bush's aiding of known terrorists

George W. Bush and his family have a proven history of aiding, abetting, and associating with some of the most bloody handed terrorists of the 20th century (Orlando Bosch, for one).

George W. Bush, by his own publicly stated logic, is duty bound to arrest himself
posted by troutfishing at 5:05 AM on September 23, 2004


Well, I hope all you let's-arrest-Cat-Stevens strategists are happy now:

ANGRY CAT STEVENS VOWS TO RESUME SINGING
posted by soyjoy at 7:52 AM on September 23, 2004


matteo, I've gone from wanting to strangle you to generally respecting you but stuff like this: "as it is you're right of course kkkrrrlson -- " , "Likudgirl," is juvenile and insulting.
posted by jonmc at 1:17 PM on September 23, 2004


do you mean like the many GOP millionaire supporters?
the ones who happily finance the men who gave the world this nice, perpetual War On Islam?


I'm sorry, I keep forgetting that the existence of the GOP means that I cannot be against the financing of terrorism.


one day you'll see that these War On Terrah people are (just like the fundy settlers and their enablers) the ones who damaged Israel -- the only place you care about, as it is you're right of course kkkrrrlson -- the most. but then, it'll be too late, not just for Israel, I'm afraid. it's a bad, bad, bad idea to declare war on 1.3 bn people, some of them with nukes, when what you need to do is eradicate a few thousand terrorists.

I don't know if you get strangely aroused from accusing me of wishing to kill all Muslims, if you deliberately ignore the times I've specifically denied it in response to your comments, or if you are simply too dense to understand or too stubborn to accept the fact that I have never advocated anything of the sort.


diverting a flight... ...makes you look like a laughinstock in front of the world. wait until he's landed, question him, send him back if you're dying to.

I'll agree with that.
posted by Krrrlson at 1:46 PM on September 23, 2004


from soyjoy's link:

Elsewhere, NASA announced that the Mars rover will continue its mission for six more months, at which point it will be replaced by Sen. Zell Miller.

i don't even know what that means, but it's hilarious.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:27 PM on September 23, 2004


You Say Yusuf, I Say Youssouf...
The Cat Stevens incident has its origins in a spelling mistake


According to aviation sources with access to the list, there is no Yusuf Islam on the no-fly registry, though there is a "Youssouf Islam." The incorrect name was added to the register this summer, but because Islam's name is spelled "Yusuf" on his British passport, he was allowed to board a plane in London bound for the U.S. The Transportation Safety Administration alleges that Islam has links to terrorist groups, which he has denied; British foreign minister Jack Straw said the TSA action "should never have been taken."
posted by thomcatspike at 11:19 AM on September 27, 2004


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