I used to have a Cat Stevens tape and really liked his music. Kind of a shock to find out he converted to Islam.
Here’s the story from the NY Times:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 – The Department of Homeland Security ordered a United Airlines jet flying from London to Washington rerouted to Bangor, Me., on Tuesday afternoon so it could intercept a passenger, Yusuf Islam, the musician formerly known as Cat Stevens, two government officials said.
Mr. Islam was “denied entry into the United States,” said an official, and was in the custody of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. The plan on Tuesday evening was to deport Mr. Islam, who is a British subject, the officials said.
The officials, both of whom said they could not be named because this was a security issue, said Mr. Islam was a financial supporter of groups believed to be linked to terrorism. Mr. Islam’s Web site lists him as a supporter of many charities.
After the interception of Mr. Islam on Tuesday, one of the government officials said, “He is not on a watch list for making verbal threats.”
Mr. Islam was deported from Israel in July 2000 because he was believed to be a supporter of Hamas, the terrorist group.
What is probably most interesting to me is the different coverage given this story by different news outlets. Compare the above to this one from ABC and The Associated Press:
WASHINGTON Sept. 21, 2004 — 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, two federal officials said.
The two federal officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, identified the passenger as Islam. They said Islam was denied entry on national security grounds, but had no details about why the peace activist might be considered a risk to the United States.
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.
He has criticized terrorist acts by Muslims, 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.
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.”
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Islam issued a statement saying: “No right thinking follower of Islam could possibly condone such an action: The Quran equates the murder of one innocent person with the murder of the whole of humanity.”