Cat Stevens: He hasn't changed but the U.S. has

Category: Americas, World Affairs Views: 7313

I was flying to Nashville last week with my 21-year-old daughter to explore some new musical ideas with a record label there. Ironically, I was trying to remain low-profile because of the speculation that it might have raised in the music world about a return of "the Cat." Media attention was the last thing I wanted. But it seems God wanted otherwise.

Toward the end of our journey from London to Washington, the plane was diverted. The captain announced something about "heavy traffic." After landing in Bangor, Maine, six tall, blue-uniformed officers boarded and surrounded me and my daughter. 

"Is your name Yusuf Islam?" they asked.

"Yes," I confirmed. 

"Do you mind coming with us and answering a few questions?" 

At that point my heart stopped, and my daughter's face turned aspirin-white. This was the start of the nightmare.

Three FBI agents escorted me away from my daughter and asked me questions. At first, it sounded like they might have me mixed up with somebody else, as they repeated the spelling of my name. 

"No. Y-u-s-u-f," I carefully spelled out. The agents looked a bit puzzled.

As they continued asking questions, some of their queries were obviously not related to me, so I thought this must be a matter of simple mistaken identity. Whether it was a mix-up or not remained unclear because they weren't under any obligation to give me a reason; the green visa waiver form I had so neatly filled in earlier had effectively denied me any right to appeal or answers. It was only when an immigration official read out to me a legal reference number that he mentioned some implication with "terrorism" - no further details necessary. 

The most upsetting thing was being separated from my daughter for 33 hours - not knowing how she was or when and where we might be united. Because my phone was confiscated, I couldn't contact my family.

God almighty! Is this the same planet I'd taken off from? I was devastated. The unbelievable thing is that only two months earlier, I had been having meetings in Washington with top officials from the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to talk about my charity work. Even further back, one month after the attack on the World Trade Center, I was in New York meeting Peter Gabriel and Hillary Rodham Clinton at the World Economic Forum! 

Had I changed that much? No. Actually, it's the indiscriminate procedure of profiling that's changed. I am a victim of an unjust and arbitrary system, hastily imposed, that serves only to belittle America's image as a defender of the civil liberties that so many dearly struggled and died for over the centuries. 

Need I say that any form of terrorism or violence is the antithesis of everything I love and stand for? Anyone who knows me will attest to this. I have spent my life in the search for peace and understanding, and that was mirrored clearly in my music. Since becoming a Muslim, I have devoted my life to education, charity and helping children around the world. 

Consistently I have condemned the attacks of 9/11, stating that the slaughter of innocents, the taking of hostages and cold blooded killing of women and children have nothing do with the teachings of Islam. I've openly and publicly repudiated the actions of groups that resort to such acts of inhumanity - whatever their names. Any allegations to the contrary are fabricated. The Koran equates the murder of one innocent person with the murder of all of humanity.

Ever since I embraced Islam in 1977, people have regularly tried to link me with things I have nothing to do with. Take the Salman Rushdie case as an example, or the regurgitating of the accusation that I support groups like Hamas.

I am a man of peace, and I denounce all forms of terrorism and injustice; it is simply outrageous for anyone to suggest otherwise. The fact that I have sympathy for ordinary people in the world who are suffering from occupation, tyranny, poverty or war is human and has nothing to do with politics or terrorism. 

Thank God my daughter and I were relieved of our ordeal and delivered home safely. I also thank all those who prayed for me and supported me through this dark episode; I have never harbored any ill will toward people of God's great Earth anywhere - and wish the reverse was also true.

Source: LA Times

  Category: Americas, World Affairs
Views: 7313
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Older Comments:

Dear Brother and Sister

This event that happened to our brother Yusuf Islam Should bring us together to work for peace more then ever. It is also warning to humanity. Waging a war against terorist is one thing but if you waging a war againt Islam is another matter. The meaning of Islam is peace ( total sobmisison to the will of God ). Waging a war against peace will bring you down to the bottom of the lowest. It is not where human being should be.


Salam to brother Yusuf Islam and all who reads this comment.
Brother Yusuf, I still remember vividly your visit to Singapore years ago. Many of us had to stand on our toes just to get a glimpse of you and still many others did not succeed to get into the small auditorium at all. Well if the United States did not welcomed you this time, do come over to Singapore, we miss your beautiful Allah given voice! Inshallah!

U. Sam reading your article made me deplore your side of America. Your thinking and thus your opinion on a group of people denotes a severe case of psychologically morbid state of mind, which is simplier known as racism. From the foundation of the USA there were illuminated people that fought ideologically for an emancipated American society. Their success was insignificant. Those Americans that were racism-proof and had a progressive thinking were either in marginalized or corraled in a puplic view that they were harbouring unpatriotic opinions. Very sad, a great nation like US following a line of thought of the dark ages!
You said:"Would you give a rapist the keys to your home?" With this you incriminated Yusuf Islam of being a terrorist. What kind of society you represent, U. Sam? You sound to me like the Spanish Inquisition! I thank God any time I read such horrifying comments that I live in a true free and democratic country: CANADA! I wonder over all those that would like to visit US as long as it is run by a most idiotic and paranoid administration in the world?! I was offered jobs in either North Carolina and California with very good to excellent retribution by different contractors coming in contact with me at my company. Guess what, I refused out flat. They tried to woo me describing the wonderful climate of those places. You can have it and choke with it! I would'nt just not go visit US, I would'nt fly over it if my destination would require that, like let's say a flight from Toronto to Acapulco I would take it from Halifax to Azores and straight over the ocean to Mexico! Who knows, maybe there is something wrong in the US air that makes certain people prone to imbecility!
I wish you well!

Mr Islam seemingly ran afoul the APIS (Advanced Passenger Information System). The US requires every carrier that has a flight crossing the US borders to submit a list of passengers within 15 minutes of the plane taking off. But note the confusion over the spelling of his name. Did the computer flag his name or did someone do so. How be it he was able to enter earlier for other reasons?
The no-fly lists the US has created have no right of redress as required by the US constitution nor a right to face your accuser and can therefore be used as an excuse for abuse. The Democratic Senator Kennedy also ran afoul a no-fly list. One wonders if the rules for putting a name on the list are no more objective than the Presidents ability to declare someone a terrorist and are therefore being used at whim.
It is this type of thing the founding fathers of the US fought against. And the people forced shields against them into the Bill of Rights. But the US has changed, significantly since the early 80's (when use of torture to extract confessions and "arrest of assets (without trial)" were declared legal).
We are seeing all that the founding fathers fought for being reversed by recent administrations. Indeed so that they themselves can exercise these abuses under the protection of "the law".
Those that would give up essential liberties for security will lose both, is what the founding fathers declared.
For they were not secure from abuse by their own government.
If a US senator can be abused, what hope do others have not to be abused also.

For those who dont know "U.Sam" is "Abdullah Hakim" aka "at" the right American .. promoting a fundamentalist Christian terrorist website.
To compare Yusuf Islam to a rapist shows that "U.Sam" is a low life degenerate in need of reality. If any comparison to rape is needed, the daily activities of American war criminals in Iraq is all that one needs.

i strongly beleive it was a planned move by the americans to expel yusuf islam even before he arrived for many reasons.first to send out a message to the practising muslims around the world they dont want them coming to their coutry,second they dont want any muslim who could attract large crowds to spread he's or hers islamic beliefs within america and to send out a clear message to the world that type of person they are against and do not like,in other words the practising muslim is not welcome in their house and lets send him back from where he came from cause him and who ever is like him we the nation of america are at war with the way dosent that remind us of pharoh when moses came to him as a man submitting to the will of god and was told by the pharoh he did not want him around with that type of message and was then rejected and hated even with clear signs he was a mercy from god.dosent that sound very similiar that the present pharoh's of today reject and hate anyone who submitts to the will of god?

First,I have to say how classy and honorable Yusuf Islam has handle this situation with true dignity.Yusuf Islam has never changed,just his religion.It's amazing how many people he has helped over the many years.He's a kind man that only thinks about others,especially children.I support Yusuf 100% and I hope he continues to be the special person he is.I believe good things always come out of a bad situation.You have many people supporting you, especially from the U.S.A. .
Peace and Best Wishes,
Jody Mchugh

Dear brother Yusuf
I am praying that Allah will use you to correct the wrongs done to innocent people during flights. Through you the U. S. authorities will see the wrongs and excesses inflicted upon so many nice folks. During recent travel, I saw old ladies and men of all races being asked to take their shoes off. They had to go through humiliating searches in public. I kept wondering why old people have to be searched in this way. Not every one is criminal.

I have read today that Mr. Colon Powell, Secretary of State, has asked for review of your case along with some other cases. I am hopeful that much good will come out of your terrible episode. May Allah reward you manifold and keep you and your family safe.


Whereas on a personal level I question the notion of Cat Stevens supporting Al Qaeda operations, I do not have a problem with homeland security doing its job. Would you give a rapist the keys to your home? Do we need to have another accident due to a lapse in our duty to this country's saftey before we recognize we need to take extra precautions and that these precautions may seem extreme at times? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Muslems everywhere are enraged by this level of scrutiny and well they should be! But their anger seems misdirected at the government for its new regulations, rather than at those fundamentalists that hide within the guise of practicing Islam that has created the necessity for this in the first place. I'm a little bit sick of hearing how America is different or not the same. Of course it's not the same we can't ever go back to our false sense of security! So everyone would do well to stop whining about how they are being persecuted until the wackos who try to convey their opinions and political agendas by strapping bombs to themselves are rounded up and brought to justice. I can respect the honesty here:

Its is sad that though most people are decent good and helpful to others. At the times of termoil and fear, often the propagands of fear scares them into supporting the worse war mongers among them. These are the times that people with deep faith and decency have to stand up and struggle for sanity. Yusuf Islam and many others lesser known people are doing it and we hope the sanity would prevail.

i think the zionist state of israel has given their "no fly list" to homeland security and that's why you were not allowed to enter u.s.a. .recently if i am not mistaken a muslim scholar tariq ramdan's visa was revoked by the state dept with a lame excuse that he is a security risk
that action was also taken beause of zionist lobby
this shows how pathetically ignorant inefficient and paranoid they are for someone to consider you as a security risk is totally idiotic it seems like we are dancing by the tunes of israel

What Yusef Islam went through is what the Blackman has been enduring for the last 4 centuries.

Our beloved Mohammed Rasulallah(saws)was the most

It's time for the UMMAH of MOHAMMAED(saws)to view AMRIKA for what "she" is,a modern "MECCA"

Should MUSLIMS continue to make HIJIRAH to the lands of SHIRK WA JAHALIYAH?


MOHAMMED RASULALLAH after 13 years of being "peaceful,kind,nice,HUMBLE and overlooking


"They will not be pleased with you until you join them.

What would happen to AMRIKA if all of the MUSLIMS MADE HIJIRAH back to the lands of ISLAM.

The same thing that happened to MECCA when the MUSLIMS MADE HIJIRAH TO THE BILAD AS SUDAN and then MEDINA!!!!!


My apologies, Brother Yusuf Islam. My hope is that my government had some sort of a motive for treating you and your daughter so shabbily. I understand such an admission might sound a little strange. However it is even more disturbing for me to imagine that so many lives might depend on multiple teams of agents who would divert your flight without taking the initiative to spend a few moments surfing the Internet to discover how you, an international celebrity, spell your name. May peace be upon you and your loved ones (Ameen).

Thank you brother for a wonderful article highlighting the mind-numbing, supra-constitutional actions of the US government. It baffles Muslims around the world, and non-Muslims around the world for that matter, how the US, the beacon of liberty and freedom, could resort to such measures against people like yourself. It baffles people how George Bush can defend the Patriot Act without flinching. It baffles us how this country can racially profile and still put on a straight face, citing 'security' as a lame excuse for every violation, for every traspass of morality and common sense. Yet, in our hearts, we know that Allah Almighty wants the best for his people. And sometimes we see can see this clearly, and sometimes we dont see it at all. May Allah strengthen our resolve to better ourselves and those around us.

The White House has been hijacked by a bunch of hill billy, trigger happy, beer belly, heavy drinking, cross burning, racist lunatics who do not know their left from their right, led like fools to their destruction by the small insignificant state of Israel that has been notable for nothing except torture, destruction, maiming, raping and killing all in the name of God and their idiotic claim to be the chosen people. And our church supports them? Amazing.

We love you Yusuf because we know what you stand for no matter what the evil ones say or think of you.
I personally am a man of peace but I put justice ahead of peace. I treat Muslims with respect & tolerance although I see that they do nothing to protect us from the sharks of Zionism & Imperialism but expect us to denounce resistance because they call it terrorism. That means that terrorising us is ok & we are expected to remain silent & we can only speak out against our own Mujahideen although I don't see the West with its Christians & Jews going to war to free the Palestians from the blue eyed non-semite Isreali Kazar descendent. This is why I still support the Islamic government of Iran & Hizbullah, the anti war activists, the peace movements, the environmentalists, Hamas, Izzidine Alkassam brigade, Islamic Jihad, the Chechens & Bosniac Mujahideen, jamati Eslami in Pakistan & Khashmir and our beloved hero OBL as well as his companion AZ etc. We need more Mujahideen that are willing to assassinate Israeli & American leaders overseas instead of killing innocent women & children so that we can export Jihad all over the world to rid this planet of its arrogant war criminals & evil political leaders. I know this will help America's tax payers & zionists slaves wake up from their deep slumber & overthrow the Mafia like, Wild West American regime.

I emphasize with Mr. Yusuf Islam. I can understand what is he talking about. I have read earlier a story about his life. I was very much impressed with such a decent personality. May Allah (SWT) be with all innocent people and reward them for their patience in this life and in the here after.Ameen.

Alhamdullilah everything ended well for you and your family.