Section 28 was a big hit with Cat Stevens

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The Independent Culture

The artist formerly known as Cat Stevens launched his new album yesterday with a plea for moral regeneration and an attack on the Government over plans to repeal Section 28.

His latest project is a children's album and accompanying book called A is for Allah. Such a homily, he urged, would be better than "A is for Apple" in giving young children a spiritual grounding.

These are confusing times for fans of Cat Stevens and supporters of Yusuf Islam, the name he took when he embraced his new religion. Last week he was Cat once more, when an album The Very Best Of Cat Stevens was released to commemorate the 30th anniversary of him becoming a pop star in America.

Yesterday, announcing his album at the House of Lords, he was again Yusuf Islam to launch the children's album that uses the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet as touchstones to describe the fundamentals of his faith. "From day one in the classroom," he said, "children are taught 'A' stands for 'Apple'. Maybe if faith and its morality are again taught right from the start ... we can prevent such tragic incidents like the recent fatal shooting of a six-year-old by a classmate in the United States."

He then went on to comment on the debate over Section 28 today, condemning plans to scrap the Clause 28 law as a further decline in morality. "We are very grateful the House of Lords seem to represent a bulwark ... against the overrun of the state ... it is part of that overall problem we are facing - the deterioration of morality in education."