And if You Play 'Peacetrain' Backwards...
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A London-to-Washington flight was diverted to Maine when it was discovered that passenger Yusuf Islam - formerly known as singer Cat Stevens - was on a government watch list and barred from entering the country.
One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Islam, 56, was identified by the Advanced Passenger Information System, which requires airlines to send passenger information to Customs and Border Protection's National Targeting Center. The Transportation Security Administration then was contacted and requested that the plane land at the nearest airport, that official said.
"It's also a very sad state of affairs when a man best known as a peace loving pop star can be grouped into the same category Osama Bin Laden just because of his chosen faith," the statement said.
Islam drew some negative attention in the late 1980s when he supported the Ayatollah Khomeini's death sentence against Salman Rushdie, author of "The Satanic Verses." Recently, though, Islam has criticized terrorist acts, including the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the school seizure in Beslan, Russia, earlier this month that left more than 300 dead, nearly half of them children.
In a statement on his Web site, he wrote, "Crimes against innocent bystanders taken hostage in any circumstance have no foundation whatsoever in the life of Islam and the model example of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him."
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Islam issued a statement saying: "No right thinking follower of Islam could possibly condone such an action: The Quran equates the murder of one innocent person with the murder of the whole of humanity."
He may be a bit of religious kook1 but he's no terrrorist. Frankly, this is right up there with harassing Ted Kennedy. It's frivilous, idiotic and just underscores why we need real, human, highly trained security at our airports rather than some dumb computerized system that identifies every Folkie, Nun and Liberal as a suspected terrorist while the real terrorists sit back and laugh at us while they strap the dynamite to their chests.
Link via Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing.
1. the whole Rushdie-Satanic Verses thing would have been silly, if there hadn't been death threats involved. But it was more a rhetorical proclamation, at least on Cat Steven's end than any real vendetta. Honestly, do you see Cat Stevens trying to Kill Salman Rushdie? At best, he would have sung Moonshadow at him until he went back into hiding. Meanwhile, Pat Robertson is still walking around, blaming hurricanes on Gay people and suggesting someone nuke the State Department.