Deportation from US was crazy, says 'shocked' Islam
Friday 24 September 2004
Yusuf Islam, formerly the pop singer known as Cat Stevens, arrived back in Britain yesterday, saying he was "totally shocked" at his deportation from the United States.
Mr Islam, a Muslim convert, said he was taking legal advice after US officials turned him away from the country on Tuesday, saying he posed a threat to national security. He had been travelling to Washington when his flight was diverted 600 miles away to Maine, where he was questioned by the FBI and ordered to leave the country.
"Half of me wants to smile, half of me wants to growl," said the former singer, who converted to Islam in the 1970s. "It's crazy and everybody knows me from my charitable work and now there has to be explanations, but I'm glad to be home." Mr Islam described as "very kind" the intervention of the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, who protested to the US government about the incident.
Mr Straw told the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, on Wednesday that the decision to remove Mr Islam from the country "should not have been taken". US officials said that Mr Islam was detained after it was found that his name was on a "security watch" list.
The Department of Homeland Security said he was on the list "because of concerns about activities that could potentially be related to terrorism".
Mr Islam, who denied funding terrorists, issued a statement after the 11 September attacks, saying: "No right-thinking follower of Islam could possibly condone such an action."
Nihad Awad, the executive director of the US Council on American-Islamic Relations, said: "When internationally respected Islamic personalities like Yusuf Islam ... are denied entry to the United States, it sends the disturbing message that even moderate ... Muslims will be treated like terrorists."
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