258cat stevens banned from usa
- Sep 21, 2004remind anyone of charlie chaplin?
The Former Cat Stevens Gets Plane Diverted
Sep 21, 11:20 PM (ET)
By LESLIE MILLER
WASHINGTON (AP) - 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.
United Airlines Flight 919 was en route to Dulles
International Airport when the match was made between
a passenger and a name on 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.,
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
Officials had no details about why the peace activist
might be considered a risk to the United States. Islam
had visited New York in May to promote a DVD of his
1976 MajiKat tour.
One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said
Islam, 56, was identified by the Advanced Passenger
Information System, which requires airlines to send
passenger information to Customs and Border
Protection's National Targeting Center. The
Transportation Security Administration then was
contacted and requested that the plane land at the
nearest airport, that official said.
Melendez said Islam was questioned by FBI and
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
Another federal official, who is in law enforcement
and spoke anonymously because of agency policy, said
that after the interview, Customs officials decided to
deny Islam entry into the United States.
Flight 919 eventually continued on to Dulles after
Islam was removed from the flight.
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
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.
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."
On the Net:
Yusuf Islam: http://www.yusufislam.org.uk/
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