Press Releases

CAIR Asks President to Explain Exclusion of Cat Stevens


CAIR's News Conference on Yusuf Islam
CAIR’s News Conference
on Yusuf Islam

A prominent national Islamic civil rights and
advocacy group today called on the Bush administration to explain why Yusuf Islam, an internationally-known Muslim peace activist and educator, was barred from entering the United States on Tuesday.

Islam, the former pop singer Cat Stevens, was removed from a plane bound for Washington from London yesterday when his name showed up on a U.S. watch list. The plane was diverted to Maine’s Bangor International Airport.
A department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesman said Islam was denied admission to the United States “on national security grounds.”

At a news conference today in Washington, D.C., the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement that read in part:

“Yusuf Islam is perhaps one of the most widely-known and respected personalities in the Muslim world. He has a long history of promoting peace and reconciliation and condemning terrorism. In a recent statement denouncing the massacre of more than 300 people at a school in Russian,
Islam said: ‘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.’


“Treating mainstream and moderate Muslims like Yusuf Islam as if they are
criminals or terrorists, without bringing charges or allowing for due
process, sends the message to the Islamic world that even those who seek
peace and condemn terror are not fit to enter the United States. We call on
the Bush administration to explain why Yusuf Islam was barred from coming
to this country and whether other internationally-respected Muslim
travelers or scholars will face such treatment in the future. This is not the
way to win the hearts and minds of Muslims worldwide.”

SEE: “Advocates Say Deportation Will Harm Ties”

The Washington-based group also renewed its request for an explanation as
to why the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revoked the visa of
an Islamic scholar who was due to begin teaching at the University of Notre
Dame. In July, DHS officials revoked a visa previously granted to Professor
Tariq Ramadan, a well-known Islamic scholar who is often described as a
“moderate” and a “reformer.” A statement issued at that time by Notre Dame
said: “Professor Ramadan is a distinguished scholar and a voice for
moderation in the Muslim world”¦We know of no reason his entry should be

CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 29 regional
offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.

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CONTACT: Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:;
Rabiah Ahmed, 202-488-8787 or 202-439-1441, E-Mail:


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