[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; send your tips here. Full disclosure: I am the proprietor of the website Everyone Draw Mohammed. Cross posted at that site and Allergic to B.S.]
Update: I am not the first to notice and TPM is apparently the first to dismiss these concerns as “Right Wing.” I didn’t realize that freedom of speech was a “right wing” value. I thought it was a baseline that people on the left and right agreed on.
Update (II): Thanks for links from Memeorandum, Hot Air, and American Power.
I have been watching the Jon Stewart rally and my Tivo’s running a bit behind because I have been pausing to deal with life, but my jaw dropped wide open when Stewart introduced a man named “Yusuf.” That would be Yusuf Islam, the man formerly known as Cat Stevens, who then played a rendition of his song “Peace Train.”
That would be the same Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens who endorsed the Fatwah against Salman Rushdie. For instance, the New York Times reported (registration required) as follows in 1989:
The musician known as Cat Stevens said in a British television program to be broadcast next week that rather than go to a demonstration to burn an effigy of the author Salman Rushdie, ”I would have hoped that it’d be the real thing.”
The singer, who adopted the name Yusuf Islam when he converted to Islam, made the remark during a panel discussion of British reactions to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s call for Mr. Rushdie to be killed for allegedly blaspheming Islam in his best-selling novel ”The Satanic Verses.” He also said that if Mr. Rushdie turned up at his doorstep looking for help, ”I might ring somebody who might do more damage to him than he would like.”
”I’d try to phone the Ayatollah Khomeini and tell him exactly where this man is,” said Mr. Islam, who watched a preview of the program today and said in an interview that he stood by his comments.
That would be the same Yusuf Islam that Charles Johnson (in his sane period) quoted as saying: “The Qur’an makes it clear, if someone defames the Prophet, then he must die.” (As of this writing, Johnson has made no mention of Stevens/Islam’s presence at the rally. Color me surprised.) This is the same Yusuf Islam who threatened Farrukh Dhondy:
In the first week of the fatwa against Rushdie and his book, I [Dhondy] appeared on a television panel. Among the Muslim panelists, all of whom favored condemning the book, were two zealots: the same Kalim Siddiqui; and Yusuf Islam, the Muslim convert pop singer of Greek Cypriot origin formerly known as Cat Stevens. The moderator asked if, in my role as a commissioning editor of Channel 4 UK, I would contemplate turning The Satanic Verses into a film. I said that I would judge the cinematic merits of the script, and that no other consideration would rule it out. Kalim Siddiqui and Yusuf Islam snarled, warning that the sentence of death on Rushdie would extend to all those who forwarded his book in any way.
And this ___hole is in the rally to restore sanity?!
Update: Remember when Jon Stewart was against those who use threats of violence to suppress freedom of speech? Video at the link. (Thanks to Kevin M below who reminded me of that.)
Update (II): Let’s not forget what Rushdie thought of Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam appearing at a “Green” event:
Cat Stevens wanted me dead
However much Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam may wish to rewrite his past, he was neither misunderstood nor misquoted over his views on the Khomeini fatwa against The Satanic Verses (Seven, April 29). In an article in The New York Times on May 22, 1989, Craig R Whitney reported Stevens/Islam saying on a British television programme “that rather than go to a demonstration to burn an effigy of the author Salman Rushdie, ‘I would have hoped that it’d be the real thing’.”
He added that “if Mr Rushdie turned up at his doorstep looking for help, ‘I might ring somebody who might do more damage to him than he would like. I’d try to phone the Ayatollah Khomeini and tell him exactly where this man is’.”
In a subsequent interview with The New York Times, Mr Whitney added, Stevens/Islam, who had seen a preview of the programme, said that he “stood by his comments”.
Let’s have no more rubbish about how “green” and innocent this man was.
Salman Rushdie, New York
Update (III): Via Ed Driscoll, we get video of Yusuf Islam wishing he could burn Rushdie alive.
Update (IV): Yusuf Islam, in a FAQ that No More Mr. Nice Blog states was written in 2007:
I never called for the death of Salman Rushdie; nor backed the Fatwa issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini – and still don’t. The book itself destroyed the harmony between peoples and created an unnecessary international crisis.
When asked about my opinion regarding blasphemy, I could not tell a lie and confirmed that – like both the Torah and the Gospel – the Qur’an considers it, without repentance, as a capital offense. The Bible is full of similar harsh laws if you’re looking for them. However, the application of such Biblical and Qur’anic injunctions is not to be outside of due process of law, in a place or land where such law is accepted and applied by the society as a whole.
You got that? He doesn’t want to personally kill Rushdie, he just wants the government to do it, after a fair trial. Lovely.
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]