Yusuf Islam: Some will associate Orlando with Islam – that’s criminal

I am here to talk to Yusuf Islam, the Muslim singer and humanitarian formerly

known as Sixties icon Cat Stevens, about his charity concert for child refugees at

Westminster’s Central Hall tonight.

But the mass shooting at Florida gay club Pulse by an alleged Islamic State

terrorist has overtaken us. “This guy is demented, a distortion, and it is

detestable and horrendous, but it does not reflect Islam,” says Yusuf, 67, who

looks like a benign if nattily dressed cleric.

“Yes, some people will try and associate this incident with Islam as a whole —

Donald Trump, probably — and that’s criminal.

You wouldn’t blame the whole of Britain for those football hooligans who have

gone to Marseille.”

He sounds slightly exasperated, once again compelled to defend the faith he

embraced in 1977 after almost drowing off Malibu.

But with Orlando gunman Omar Mateen’s father stating that homosexuals should

be “punished by God”, and fears of an attack at London’s own Pride celebrations,

I wonder if Yusuf will express solidarity with the gay community when he gets

on stage tonight.

“I don’t think I need to,” he says. “That’s the problem with tagging these things

with ‘Islam’. The most important thing Islam preserves is the privacy of one’s

sexual activity.

It’s up to you how you behave behind closed doors or in the privacy of your own

bedroom. We are here for a humanitarian cause and we don’t want to dis-focus

from the issue, which is the lone refugee.”

Of the estimated five million people displaced by the murder spree of IS, the war

in Syria and unrest in Iraq and Afghanistan, one million have sought refuge in

Europe, and 95,000 of those are children travelling alone.

It is these children, who may have experienced nothing but conflict, and who

may never know a stable home or school life, that Yusuf wants to help.

So through his charity Small Kindness he has hooked up with Save the Children

and Penny Appeal to highlight their plight. He has recorded a new song, He Was

Alone, created the campaign hashtag #YouAreNotAlone, and arranged the gig.

The disparate likes of Ricky Gervais, Steve McQueen, Naomi Campbell, Emma

Thompson, several Kardashians, New Order, Queen and Miley Cyrus’s Happy

Hippie Foundation have all pledged support.

The idea “came out of just watching the news on a daily basis: seeing the tragedy

unfolding, refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean, trying to get to safer

lands”, says Yusuf (I’ll call him that to avoid confusion).
http://www.standard.co.uk/showbiz/celebrity-news/yusuf- islam-some- will-

associate-orlando- with-islam- thats-criminal- a3271121.html

A Controversial opening act at the famed Sanremo Music Festival

February 19, 2014

 

Souad Sbai, a former MP and president of the Community Association of Moroccan Women in Italy (ACMID Woman) expressed her outrage at the choice of Cat Steven to open the famed Sanremo music festival. In a note Sbai said “I’m sorry I have to note once again the inability of state television to act as a public service. I find it shameful that the Parliamentary Oversight Committee at Rai television did not intervene to avoid hosting a controversial celebrity for the opening of the Sanremo music festival” Sbai is against the British singer-songwriter Cat Stevens, because in the “in the 1970s converted to Islam and now goes by the name Yusuf Islam” and “ he continues to be on the blacklist for traveling to the United States.” Sbai then points out that “in 2006, here in Italy, the pop star was the subject of a parliamentary panel led by the Minister of the Interior, Giuliano Amato, for an interview in which he spoke about Islamic propaganda.”

 

Andkronos: http://www.adnkronos.com/IGN/News/Spettacolo/Sanremo-Souad-Sbai-Cat-Stevens-in-lista-nera-Usa-era-meglio-non-farlo-esibire_321244456940.html

Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) to Open Sanremo 2014

February 15, 2014

 

Yusuf Islam was announced as the international guest for Sanremo (the large music competition held in Italy every year). In a press conference, held last Monday Fabio Fazio announced that Yusuf Islam, who for all connoisseurs of his music will always be Cat Stevens, will be the international guest on the first evening of the festival, scheduled for February 18.

The British singer-songwriter became popular in the London of the sixties beginning his career in the pop genre. Since completely changing his lifestyle, Yusuf Islam still looks himself by continuing to have an unshaven look while shouldering an acoustic guitar. In his latest album, Islam echoes the Mediterranean in his tracks with especially intimate lyrics focusing on the cultural and social scene in Britain, increasingly divided by economic differences.

 

Soundsblog: http://www.soundsblog.it/post/249915/sanremo-2014-yusuf-islam-cat-stevens-ospite-internazionale

Musical News: http://www.musicalnews.com/articolo.php?codice=27016&sz=6

Today: http://www.today.it/media/sanremo-2014/cat-stevens-ospite.html

Yusuf Islam, the musician formerly known as Cat Stevens, asks Iran to free 2 US hikers

MINNEAPOLIS — Yusuf Islam, the British musician formerly known as Cat Stevens, is calling for the release of two American hikers charged with spying in Iran.

A video of Islam pleading for Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal to be freed on humanitarian and justice grounds has been posted on YouTube. He says they should be released if there’s no clear evidence they’re anything other than hikers.

Another prominent western Muslim, former boxing champ Muhammad Ali, has written to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei twice on the hikers’ behalf.

Yusuf Islam embarks on his first tour in 33 years

Musician and song-writer Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, is going on tour again after a 33-year break. After converting to Islam in 1977, he stopped performing altogether, and only resumed his musical career around 2001. He slightly changed his position on the permissibility of music in Islam, and from then on performed music that he considers halal, using only particular instruments and placing a strong emphasis on the spiritual or philosophical lyrics.

He opened his comeback on stage with a concert in Dublin, which saw a sold-out arena and enthusiastic fans, but also some angry reactions. A small group within the audience marred the show by booing and some abusive comments. In a reaction statement in The Times, Yusuf Islam said he was shocked and these people should not expect him “to return to the Cat Stevens persona of yesterday”, but also that he is glad to be back.

Yusuf Islam to release his new album

Yusuf Islam, until 1977 known as Cat Stevens, will release his new album Roadsong on 8 May. Islam, who had stopped playing and writing music for 28 years, reappeared on stage with his album ‘An Other Cup’ in 2006. In the years between he had dedicated himself to religion and philanthropy, e.g. founding an Islamic primary school in London in 1981. Critics say that his new album combines a lot of Cat Stevens and Yusuf Islam – although he himself claims no separation is possible between the two ‘concepts’. Spirituality has always been present in his works. The album gives a preview of his upcoming project, a musical of his work called Moonshadow.

Yusuf Islam wins damages for ‘veiled women’ slur

Yusuf Islam, the singer-songwriter formerly known as Cat Stevens, has accepted substantial libel damages and an apology for articles that claimed he was sexist and bigoted. London’s High Court was told the World Entertainment News Network news agency and an entertainment website contactmusic.com agreed to pay “substantial damages” for allegations made about him at an awards ceremony in Germany. The articles, published in March last year, falsely claimed he had refused to speak to or even acknowledge any women who were not veiled and was not prepared to speak to women other than through an intermediary, his lawyer said. As Cat Stevens, Islam, 59, recorded several major hits in the late 1960s and 1970s. He converted to Islam at the height of his fame in 1977, devoting himself to education and philanthropy.

Plan For New British-Muslim Identity Islamic School Offers Antidote To ‘Modern’ Extremism

LONDON: Two hundred students, giggling and gathering on the playground, are the best antidote to Islamic extremism, although they may not realise it yet. Students at Britain’s first state-funded Islamic school are pint-sized but carry the huge responsibility of forging a new identity for Muslims, one which is neither secular nor extremist, but “organic, dynamic and chaotic”, according to their headmaster. “We’re creating a British-Muslim identity and ethic, and we’re not in the business of preserving any particular culture,” Abdullah Trevathan said, describing the motley group of 23 nationalities, mostly of mixed descent, that make up the Islamiya Primary School. The youths are famous across Britain, and not just because their north London school was founded by the folksinger Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, in 1983. A decade after winning state funding-a right long accorded to Protestant and Catholic schools-they now attend one of the top primary schools in the country, learning the required state curriculum, plus religion and Arabic. At seven, pupils begin attending services at the mosque. Headscarves are optional for the youngest, and become part of the uniform at nine years of age. Cartesian analysis, questioning and debate are encouraged, replacing madrassa-style rote learning of the Quran. At its founding, during the era of Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher, there were “fears about us having Molotov cocktail classes”, Trevathan told AFP in a recent interview. Such blatant Islamophobia has been largely silenced in the wake of Islamiya’s successes and in some ways the school has become iconic of the diversity touted by Britain’s Labour-led government. But the chief English schools inspector touched off fresh debate in January, worrying publicly that Islamic schools could pose a “challenge to our coherence as a nation”. Five of some 100 Muslim schools in England are now state funded, with the rest independent, and are joined by more than 50 Jewish schools and about 100 Evangelical Christian schools-in addition to existing Catholic and Protestant structures. Far from teaching radicalism and separatism, Islamiya has become a model of diversity, preaching tolerance not only to students but their families and the larger community, assembled from a jumble of Sunni and Shiite Muslim, Arab, Asian and European, privileged and poor backgrounds. “Islam is not served by centralization, it is served by diversity,” Trevathan said. The school’s adherence to traditional classical Islam, or the “scholastic approach responding to the problems of modern-day Britain”, contrasts with the “modernist” stand he said was embodied by both secularists and fundamentalists seeking to impose their uniform, universal view.