Peace Train My A**!

by GADI ADELMAN November 1, 2010
On the National Mall this past Saturday Comedy Central had their so called non-political event “The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
I did not attend the rally as I had better things to do, like, um, anything. I didn’t bother to watch it on TV either as I had better things to do, like, uh, such as, um, pull ticks off my dog.
I was amazed to hear on the news that Yusuf Islam was a surprise singer at the event. You know, Yusuf Islam, he was once known as Cat Stevens before he converted to Islam in December 1977.
When I was growing up I loved this guy, he was an amazing singer/song writer. His albums such as “Tea for the Tillerman” and “Teaser and the Firecat” were just some of my favorites.
I say, “He was an amazing singer/song writer” in the past tense on purpose, as he abandoned his singing career after his conversion to Islam and after being persuaded by orthodox Muslim teachers (Imams) that his lifestyle was forbidden by Islamic law. According to Wikipedia,
Following his conversion, Yusuf abandoned his music career. When he became a Muslim in 1977, he said, the Imam at the mosque was told that he was a pop star, and he told Yusuf that it was fine to continue as a musician, so long as the songs were morally acceptable. But Yusuf says he knew there were aspects of the music business, such as vanity and temptations that did go against the teachings of the Qur’an and this was the primary reason he gave for retreating from the spotlight.
Personally I could care less what he converted to, I like so many others was just sorry that he had stopped writing and singing.
I guess that in a way Cat, oh, sorry, Yusuf, missed being in the spot light because according to the Philadelphia Inquirer as reprinted on the Academic dictionaries and encyclopedias website,      
On February 21, 1989, Yusuf Islam addressed students at Kingston University in London about his conversion to Islam and was asked about the controversy in the Muslim world and the fatwa calling for Salman Rushdie's execution. He replied, "He must be killed. The Qur'an makes it clear - if someone defames the prophet, then he must die."  "Philadelphia Inquirer", February 24, 1989, p.5A, "Iran: West to blame Islam for forthcoming terrorism".
Although Yusuf has claimed that he never made these statements, on May 22, 1989 he made similar statements on the BBC according to the NY Times,
The musician known as Cat Stevens said in a British television program to be broadcast next week that rather than go to a demonstration to burn an effigy of the author Salman Rushdie, ''I would have hoped that it'd be the real thing.''
But that wasn’t enough, oh no, not for Mr. Islam. In 1990, years before 9/11, he was banned from Israel. ABC news reported,
The former British music star, who has gone by the name Yusuf Islam for more than 20 years, landed in Israel on a flight from Germany early on Wednesday. He was held at the airport for several hours and sent back to Germany, government spokesman Moshe Fogel said. Islam, who now sings only for his mosque, had “transferred funds” to Hamas in the past, Fogel told Reuters.
“There was a problem with allowing him into the country because he is a Hamas supporter,” he said. “He didn’t seem like he was coming here for summer tourism. Any country has the right to prevent terror within its own borders.”
“He knew before he got on the plane that he didn’t have permission to come into the country,” Fogel said.
Had Been Barred Before
Islam, who recorded hits including “Peace Train” and “Wild World” before converting to Islam in 1977, last visited Israel in 1988. The government claims that during that trip he delivered tens of thousands of dollars to Hamas.
Two years later, in 1990, he tried to enter again along with his 8-year-old son but was barred.
Then in September, 2004 he was deported from the U.S. And why would the U.S. ban this person? Reuters reported on ABC news,
Cat Stevens deported amid terrorism fears
Former pop singer Cat Stevens has been deported to Britain after United States officials said his activities could be "linked to terrorism" and his name was put on a US no-fly list.
Homeland Security spokesman Brian Doyle said Mr. Islam's plane was bound for Washington DC but was diverted to Bangor, Maine, on Tuesday after his name turned up on US lists of suspected terrorists.
"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," Mr. Doyle said.
A law enforcement official who asked not to be identified said the United States had information that Mr. Islam, who visited the United States in May, had donated money to the militant Islamic group Hamas.
Donated money to Hamas? Really? Where have we heard that before?
In 2004 the website Militant Islam Monitor posted an article “Yusuf Islam & The Muslim Council of Britain's terrorism ties - Muslim Aid 'charity' funds Al Qaeda & sent Mujahideen to Bosnia” in which they reported,
The domain registrant for Islam's Muslim Aid 'charity' is Iqbal Asaria, a documented Al Qaeda operative who is the chairman of the Muslim Council of Britain's finance and economics committee.
Funding and having ties to Al Qaeda seems like it would be enough for Yusuf Islam to remain on a “no fly” list, but then, two years after being denied entry to the U.S., he was allowed in without incident in December 2006.
Senior Editor of Reason magazine and, Michael C. Moynihan, upon hearing that Yusuf Islam had performed at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, summed it up well when he tweeted something that I cannot repeat here. In order to get it past the censors, I will put it this way,
"WTF. Sanity = supporting fatwa against Salman Rushdie?"
Yep, that says it well.
So, he sang at the rally, I did watch just the beginning of the video; as I said, I loved his music.
I turned it off right after he strapped on his guitar, held up both hands in the “V” sign, said “Peace” and started to sing “Peace Train”.
I guess I have a problem with a Hamas supporter who also backs the fatwa calling for Salman Rushdie's death, singing a song about “peace”. Contributing Editor Gadi Adelman is a freelance writer and lecturer on the history of terrorism and counterterrorism. He grew up in Israel, studying terrorism and Islam for 35 years after surviving a terrorist bomb in Jerusalem in which 7 children were killed. Since returning to the U. S., Gadi teaches and lectures to law enforcement agencies as well as high schools and colleges. He can be heard every Thursday night at 9PM est. on his own radio show “America Akbar” on Windows to Liberty Radio Network. He can be reached through his website

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