28 May 2010

MP calls for Australian Visa ban for Cat Stevens over fatwa

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An Australian MP has called for the musician formally known as Cat Stevens to be refused an Australian Visa because of his support for a “fatwa” against author Salman Rushdie.

The Conservative Victorian state parliamentarian, Peter Kavanagh, said Yusuf Islam should not be issued an Australian Visa until he withdraws support for the 1989 edict.

Islam is staging a comeback tour that reaches Australia next month.

Mr Kavanagh told the Victorian parliament that Islam has endorsed at the time the Iran Ayatollah Khomeini’s religious decree calling for Muslims to kill Rushdie for alleged blasphemy in his book “The Satanic Verses”.

“Although Yusuf now denies supporting attempts to murder Salman Rushdie, he is on record at the time for stating that he wanted to see Mr. Rushdie himself burn, not just an effigy of him, and he would like to have reported Mr. Rushdie's whereabouts to those who were trying to murder him," Mr Kavanagh said.

Mr Kavanagh said the Islam should be denied entry into Australia because he did not support freedom of expression.

"I call on the Minister for Immigration to deny Mr Yusuf a visa to enter Australia unless he publicly and categorically states that he does not and will not support the murder of any person for the expression of views, no matter how offensive," he said.

Islam was born in London as Steven Georgiou and had hits in the 1960s and 1970s as Cat Stevens, before converting to the Muslim faith and retiring from the music industry. He returned to music with an album in 2006 and the album "Roadsinger" released last year.

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