Yusuf Islam: 'I Am A Victim'
Yusuf Islam blasts the United States' system of screening airline passengers of potential terrorists as "indiscriminate" and "unjust" in an editorial in today's (Sept. 28) Los Angeles Times.Yusuf Islam blasts the United States' system of screening airline passengers of potential terrorists as "indiscriminate" and "unjust" in an editorial in today's (Sept. 28) Los Angeles Times. The artist formerly known as Cat Stevens was barred from entering the United States last week because his named appeared on a government security watch list.
"I am a victim of an unjust and arbitrary system, hastily imposed, that serves only to belittle America's image as a defender of the civil liberties that so many dearly struggled and died for over the centuries," Islam writes.
"Need I say that any form of terrorism or violence is the antithesis of everything I love and stand for? Anyone who knows me will attest to this. I have spent my life in the search for peace and understanding, and that was mirrored clearly in my music. Since becoming a Muslim, I have devoted my life to education, charity and helping children around the world. "
Islam and his 21-year-old daughter were traveling from London to Washington, D.C., with the ultimate destination of Nashville, where he says they were going "to explore some new musical ideas with a record label there. Ironically, I was trying to remain low profile because of the speculation that it might have raised in the music world about a return of 'the Cat.' Media attention was the last thing I wanted. But it seems God wanted otherwise."
Their flight was diverted to Maine, where FBI agents removed him from the plane for questioning. "Some of their queries were obviously not related to me, so I thought this must be a matter of simple mistaken identity," he says. Officials eventually deported Islam, returning him to London and bringing an end to an ordeal he says left him "devastated."
"Ever since I embraced Islam in 1977, people have regularly tried to link me with things I have nothing to do with... I am a man of peace, and I denounce all forms of terrorism and injustice; it is simply outrageous for anyone to suggest otherwise... I have never harbored any ill will toward people of God's great Earth anywhere - and wish the reverse was also true."