The Israeli hand, working of course through their neocon friends operatives in Washington, is all over this one. It's another attempt to intimidate one and all who dare support the Palestinian struggle to free themselves from the brutal Israeli military occupation. After all, if they can blackball 'Cat Stevens' in this way the average Muslim and Arab has to fear everytime he heads to a Mosque or contributes to any Islamic charity.
Cat Stevens Slams U.S. Deportation
Reuters - 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 growl."
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 said.
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 world.
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.