[Mb-civic]   Cat Stevens Slams U.S. Deportation    Reuter s

Michael Butler michael at michaelbutler.com
Thu Sep 23 21:54:27 PDT 2004

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  Cat Stevens Slams U.S. Deportation

  Thursday 23 September 2004

  LONDON - Muslim convert and former pop star Cat Stevens returned to
Britain on Thursday after his deportation from the U.S. over "potential"
terrorism links sparked an Anglo-American diplomatic row.

  "The whole thing is totally ridiculous," Stevens said on arrival at
London's Heathrow airport. "Half of me wants to smile, half of me wants to

  UK Muslim leaders were outraged. "The United States is shutting down its
house, building walls around itself," said Anas Altikriti, spokesman for the
Muslim Association of Britain.

  Stevens, 56, was traveling with his daughter on a United Airlines flight
on Tuesday from London to Washington when American officials diverted it 600
miles to Bangor, Maine.

  They said he was denied entry to the U.S. because his activities could be
linked to terrorism.

  The deportation of Stevens, known as Yusuf Islam since he stopped singing
and became a Muslim almost three decades ago, led Foreign Secretary Jack
Straw to complain personally to Secretary of State Colin Powell at the
United Nations.

  Straw "expressed concern that this action should not have been taken," a
Foreign Office spokesman said.

  "It's crazy," Stevens added as he was mobbed by reporters at Heathrow.
"Everybody knows me from my charitable work and now there has to be
explanations, but I'm glad to be home."

  Asked if he felt victimized, Stevens said: "Absolutely. But you know, for
God's sake people make mistakes. I just hope they have made a big mistake.

  "I wasn't handcuffed or anything like that. They treated me very well. The
one positive thing I can say is that a lot of security officers are very
pleased because they got my autograph."

  Protest to Bush

  U.S. Homeland Security spokesman Brian Doyle said on Wednesday that Islam
was deported after his name turned up on U.S. "no fly" lists.

  "Why is he on the watch lists? Because of his activities that could be
potentially linked to terrorism. The intelligence community has come into
possession of additional information that further raises our concern," Doyle

  A law enforcement official said the United States had information that
Islam, who last visited the United States in May, had donated money to the
militant Islamic group Hamas.

  A leading Arab-American group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations,
has sent letters to President Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge
asking them to explain why Islam was barred.

  Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, the
largest group lobbying for the country's 1.8 million Muslims, told Reuters:
"This whole saga does not bode well for other Muslims.

  "It will make them wonder who else, which other moderate educationalists
or community leaders are on these U.S. watch lists," he told Reuters.

  Islam was denied entry to Israel in 2000 after the authorities there
accused him of supporting Hamas. He denied the charges then and said his
charitable donations were for humanitarian causes.

  Among the charities he has supported are children affected by war in
Bosnia and Iraq as well as victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks against
America, which he condemned.

  Born Steven Demeter Georgiou in July 1947 to a Swedish mother and a Greek
Cypriot father, he changed his name to Cat Stevens when he entered the music

  He had a string of hits in the early 1970s including "Peace Train,"
"Moonshadow," "Morning has Broken," and "Wild World" before converting to
Islam in 1977.



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