16 February, 2010
Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens)
I just wanted to take some time to defend a man I respect very very much. Yusuf Islam (Formerly Cat Stevens) is a man about peace. He abandoned his musical career to focus on his conversion to the Muslim faith. There has been some controversy over rumors regarding ties with terrorist groups.
Immediately following the 11 September 2001, attacks on the United States, he gave the following statement:
"I wish to express my heartfelt horror at the indiscriminate terrorist attacks committed against innocent people of the United States yesterday. While it is still not clear who carried out the attack, it must be stated that no right-thinking follower of Islam could possibly condone such an action. The Qur'an equates the murder of one innocent person with the murder of the whole of humanity. We pray for the families of all those who lost their lives in this unthinkable act of violence as well as all those injured; I hope to reflect the feelings of all Muslims and people around the world whose sympathies go out to the victims of this sorrowful moment."
In 2004 he was detained by agents from the Department of Homeland Security. The following day, Yusuf was deported back to the United Kingdom. The Transportation Security Administration claimed there were "concerns of ties he may have to potential terrorist-related activities". Yusuf said in a statement "I have never knowingly supported or given money to Hamas," says Yusuf, who repeatedly has condemned terrorism and Islamic extremism. "At the time I was reported to have done it, I didn't know such a group existed. Some people give a political interpretation to charity. We were horrified at how people were suffering in the Holy Land."
Two years later, in December 2006, Yusuf was admitted without incident into the United States for several radio concert performances and interviews to promote his new record.
Here are just a few awards he has received for his promotion of peace.
* 2003 World Award also known as the "World Social Award" for "humanitarian relief work helping children and victims of war".
* 2004 Man for Peace Award presented by Mikhail Gorbachev for his "dedication to promote peace, the reconciliation of people and to condemn terrorism", the ceremony was held in Rome, Italy and attended by five Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
* (2005) Honorary Doctorate by the University of Gloucestershire for services to education and humanitarian relief.
* 4 January 2007, The Mediterranean Prize for Peace in Naples, Italy. The award was received "as a result of the work he has done to increase peace in the world."
* 10 July 2007, honorary doctorate (LLD) by the University of Exeter, in recognition of "his humanitarian work and improving understanding between Islamic and Western cultures." The ceremony was attended by esteemed personalities including Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and guitarist Brian May.
* 6 November 2009, Special Achievement Award of the German Sustainability Award.
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