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258cat stevens banned from usa

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  • Greg Cannon
    Sep 21, 2004
      remind anyone of charlie chaplin?
      The Former Cat Stevens Gets Plane Diverted

      Sep 21, 11:20 PM (ET)


      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.,
      Melendez 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

      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
      in 1983.

      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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