The Spectacle Blog

Defining Sanity Down

By on 10.30.10 | 3:17PM

In light of Jon Stewart featuring Yusuf Islam, aka Cat Stevens, at the "Rally to Restore Sanity" on the mall today, it's worth remembering the insanity that this man has endorsed.

"He must be killed," Stevens/Islam said in 1989 of Salman Rushdie, when asked about the Ayatollah Khomenei's infamous fatwa. "The Qur'an makes it clear - if someone defames the prophet, then he must die." He has neve retracted his statements about Rushdie; instead, he has tried to pretend he never advocated what he advocated (and often simply refuses to comment on the issue). But as Rushdie put it in a 2007 letter to the Sunday Telegraph:

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

Here is video of the TV appearance that Rushdie refers to.

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