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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

That's Why They Call It a PEACE Train
Additional news ([1] [2]) on Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens:

Yusuf Islam, the pop star formerly known as Cat Stevens, says he has received "more apologies than you can count" from Americans embarrassed after their government deported him over potential terrorism links.

In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday before he received a peace award from a group of Nobel Prize winners, Islam said he would be making more music soon but did not think September's episode would figure in the new songs.

Islam, who changed his name after converting to Islam in the 1970s, was traveling on a commercial plane from London to Washington when it was diverted to Bangor, Maine.

U.S. Homeland Security said he was deported after his name turned up on U.S. "no fly" lists because of activities they said could be potentially linked to terrorism.

"I have got more apologies from Americans since that time than you can count," he said in the interview in a frescoed waiting room of Rome's city hall as Nobel laureates gathered.

"So, I'm quite satisfied with the spirit of most people and probably it was a mistake. But let's hope it will be solved soon. The lawyers are looking into it," he said.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev honored the singer once known as Cat Stevens (news) with a peace prize on Wednesday, praising him for charity work and for standing by his convictions despite personal hardships.

Yusuf Islam was awarded the "Man for Peace" prize in Rome at the opening of a meeting of Nobel Peace Prize laureates. He last made headlines in September, when he turned up on Washington's no-fly list for having suspected ties to terrorists — a claim he has strongly denied.

The "Peace Train" singer, who largely gave up music after converting to Islam in the late 1970s, mused about the strangeness of being barred from one country while being honored in another.

"Perhaps it's part of the irony that sometimes you have to go through a test in order to achieve a prize," he told reporters. "So maybe that's a symbol. Today I'm receiving a prize for peace, which is actually, I would say, a bit more descriptive of my ideas and my aims in life."...

Islam...pointed out that just a few months [before his expulsion], he had met with officials of the White House's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to talk about philanthropy.

Lawyers for the singer have asked American officials to remove his name from the "no fly" list and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has complained to American officials about their treatment of him....

The former Soviet leader alluded to the musician's troubles.

"Cat Stevens' life has not been simple," Gorbachev said. "Every person who takes a critical stance to make the world a better place ... has a difficult life."

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