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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Yeah, his music sucks, but still....
Posted by Jill | 11:15 AM

And to think there was a time when I not only OWNED the album Tea for the Tillerman but actually LIKED it.

There are some records, like Bat Out of Hell, or The Allman Bros. Live at the Fillmore East, or just about anything Elvis Costello did when he was still young and angry, instead of showing off his Big Canadian Croonster wife, that you can always pick up and listen to over and over again. Then there's the stuff of which Depressed Hippie Wannabe Teenagers are made of, like Joni Mitchell's Blue, or Harry Chapin's chunks of life songs, or yes, Tea for the Tillerman, that only a fifteen year old who feels like a complete misfit could love.

Still, while Cat Stevens, a.k.a. Yusuf Islam, is a lousy songwriter and even worse vocalist, and while he misguidedly supported the late Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa against author Salman Rushdie (whose only real crime is being insufferably pretentious), the idea that he's on a government watch list is kind of chilling. Is this triggered SOLELY because he re-released "Peace Train" last year? Yeah, it's an awful song, but then, so is "Oops, I Did It Again", but you don't see Britney Spears on any kind of watch list.

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.

United Airlines Flight 919 was en route to Dulles International Airport when the match was made Tuesday between a passenger and a name on the watch list, said Nico Melendez, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration.

The plane was met by federal agents at Maine’s Bangor International Airport around 3 p.m., Melendez said. A spokesman for the Bangor Police Department told WCSH-TV, an NBC affiliate in Portland, Maine, that Islam was driven to Boston.

Homeland Security Department spokesman Dennis Murphy said that Islam "was interviewed and denied admission to the United States on national security grounds.”

He said Islam would be put on the first available flight out of the country Wednesday.

Questioned by FBI, immigration officials
Officials had no details about why the peace activist might be considered a risk to the United States. Islam had visited New York in May for a charity event and to promote a DVD of his 1976 MajiKat tour.

Just for the record (via MSNBC), here's Stevens/Islam's record of proclamations on recent terrorist attacks:

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.”

So why is he on a government watch list? Because his last name is "Islam"? Because someone at the Justice Department had hoped never to have to listen to "Peace Train" again?

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