(Iviews.com) An American Muslim advocacy group lashed out at the Israeli government for its treatment of famous Muslim convert Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens.
Islam was on his way to Jerusalem with a film crew from the VH-1 music channel last week to document his spiritual journey to becoming a Muslim, but Islam never made it outside the Israeli airport. Islam was detained and then deported just hours after his arrival.
"More likely the Israeli authorities were concerned about Mr. Islam's celebrity status and the film crew accompanying him. Israel's attempts to fully annex Jerusalem would be severely damaged if people saw the actual conditions Muslims and Christians are forced to endure in the holy city," said Khalid Turaani, Executive Director of American Muslims for Jerusalem.
The 51 year-old convert last visited the occupied territories in 1988 where he reportedly delivered tens of thousands of dollars to Hamas, the Israli newspaper Maariv daily reported.
But American Muslims for Jerusalem maintain that the donations went to support humanitarian causes such as support for orphans in Hebron.
During an interview on an Israeli entertainment show, Islam reportedly said, "They locked me in a two-meter by two-meter cell without water or a bathroom, and then deported me. I don't see any reason for this to happen in a time of peace"
An Israeli official said the decision to reject Islam was because, "...he didn't seem like he was coming here for summer tourism. Any country has the right to prevent ... terror within its own borders."
"We reject Israel's accusations as sheer propaganda," said Turaani. "Muslims and Christians have long protested the discrimination they face under Israel."
The U.S. State Department's Report on Human Rights for 1999 recently criticized the Israeli government for "...institutionalized legal and societal discrimination against Israel's Christian, Muslim and Druze citizens..."
Muslims and human rights activits have also documented Israeli interference in religious pilgrimages, the maintainence of Islamic places of worship and desecration of Muslim graves.
The former pop star, who was born Stephen Georgiou, took Cat Stevens as a stage name and then changed it again to Yusuf Islam after converting.
Islam had a long list of hits in the early 1970s, but abandoned his musical career and devoted his life to Muslim causes.
He opened a Muslim school in the early 80's and actively teaches and actively works to spread the word of Islam.