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Cat Stevens

Stephen Schwartz writes that Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, is not a terrorist but he belongs on the "do not fly" list because of his associations. In particular, he's an adherent of "Wahhabism, the state religion in Saudi Arabia, and the inspirer of al Qaeda, is especially known for its hatred of music." Let's repeat that again. Stevens should not be allowed into the country because he's an adherent of "Wahhabism, the state religion in Saudi Arabia, and the inspirer of al Qaeda." See the problem there?

UPDATE: Let me join Chris Bertram in pointing something else out. The issue here is not really whether Stevens is somehow a bad dude who in some metaphysical sense deserves to have bad things happen to him. We've got a little thing here (or at least we're supposed to) called "the rule of law" whereby persons subjected to law enforcement sanctions are supposed to be guilty of the things they're actually accused of. I wouldn't say I have any sympathy for Ann "I Wish Terrorists Would Blow Up The New York Times" Coulter, but if she were to get arrested on some random, bogus charge I'd still be upset. Now maybe there's some legitimate reason to think Stevens was plotting a terrorist attack, but I haven't heard about it.

September 24, 2004 | Permalink

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Comments

When you consider that Dominionism is the state religion of the United States (well, of Texas, anyway), Wahhabism must be the state religion of Saudi Arabia.

But seriously… google Zell Miller and Dominionism. It's an eye opener.

Posted by: Andew Smith | Sep 24, 2004 12:04:32 PM

I don't have much sympathy for Cat Stevens because of his Rushdie comments. But the idea that he cannot fly because of these connections means that he is a risk to actually hijack an airplane. That's what "do not fly" means. The article concludes that he is not a terrorist. So why does his connections, spurious as they are even in that article (makes the famour NYT web of connections on SBVT look absolutely linear by comparison) make him an actual hijack risk?

Posted by: Elrod | Sep 24, 2004 12:06:18 PM

He is also a fundraiser for Hamas and helped fun Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman who is in jail for plotting to blow up the world trade center.

Posted by: Dave | Sep 24, 2004 12:24:18 PM

Stevens should not be allowed into the country because he's an adherent of "Wahhabism, the state religion in Saudi Arabia, and the inspirer of al Qaeda." See the problem there?


Well, two:
1) We allow other Wahhabis, including those in the royal family, to come to the US all the time.
2) As undeniably nasty as Wahhabbi belief is (or, I suppose to be fair, "seems to most modern Americans and westerners"), its not fair at all to tar the whole religious movements with the even worse actions of its most extreme adherents, just as it wouldn't be fair to not let Christians into the country because Christianity "inspired" the Branch Davidians.

Posted by: cmdicely | Sep 24, 2004 12:26:00 PM

When you consider that Dominionism is the state religion of the United States (well, of Texas, anyway)

Um, its not. It may be a popular religious movement among US and Texas politicians, but its not the US state religion. Whereas Wahabbism is the openly state-sponsored religion in Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: cmdicely | Sep 24, 2004 12:30:19 PM

"He is also a fundraiser for Hamas and helped fun Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman who is in jail for plotting to blow up the world trade center"

He denies giving any money to either Hamas or Abdel-Rahman, and nobody has actually bothered to produce any evidence to contradict his denial . . .

Posted by: rea | Sep 24, 2004 12:32:57 PM

What I wanna know is, what the fuck was he doing on the plane if he was on the "no fly list." Is that list always checked against the passenger log AFTER the plane takes off? Great job Homeland Security!

Posted by: drjimcooper | Sep 24, 2004 12:39:05 PM

It may be a minor point, but US "homeland security" functions in the US "homeland", and it was an international flight.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Sep 24, 2004 12:42:05 PM

Are U.S. Air Marshalls employed under the Department of Homeland Security umbrella? Because they operate on international flights (I believe almost exclusively).

You may be correct that it wasn't Ridge's department that dropped the ball, but someone sure as hell did. What good is a "no fly list" if those on the list can get on the plane. Fat lot of good it does if a hijacker is already in his seat. Instead of blowing up or crashing the plane into DC, he would simply do it over city he was being diverted to.

Posted by: drjimcooper | Sep 24, 2004 12:49:08 PM

If Ann Coulter got arrested on a random, bogus charge, I would be against it on princicple, but I wouldn't exactly be upset....

Posted by: janet | Sep 24, 2004 12:59:01 PM

"We've got a little thing here (or at least we're supposed to) called "the rule of law" whereby persons subjected to law enforcement sanctions are supposed to be guilty of the things they're actually accused of."

Correction: "We had". Airport security is administrative, not judicial. Both Clinton and Dubya increased arbitrary police powers. The Patriot Act and Guantanamo were pretty explicit about their intention of disabling the rule of law, and our treatment of enemy combatants skirts international law if it soesn't flout it.

Many liberals are blind to the risks of administration by experts. The rule of law and Congressional lawmaking are messy and slow, but there are good reasons for them.

Obligatory Cat Stevens joke: "Moonshadow" was enough reason in itself. I was never that kind of hippy.

Posted by: Zizka | Sep 24, 2004 12:59:13 PM

I'm confused about the whole issue here. I don't have any particular dog in this fight, so the question of whether Cat Stevens should be allowed in the country or not isn't terribly important to me.
But I'm trying to figure out exactly what the problem is. I assume there are several thousand people on the no fly list. Most of them try to get on a plane and fail, or get on the plane, and are then caught and deported (like Cat Stevens). I don't know whether they are potential terrorists, fund sources, interacting with the wrong people, or what. I just trust that the government is doing the right thing**.
Why should Cat Stevens should be any different? In the last two years, I assume several hundred people have experienced similar things to Cat Stevens-tried to enter the US, and failed. I don't care about them, you don't care about them. So why care about Cat Stevens? Should semi-famous people be exempt from no fly lists? Should semi-famous people be required a public hearing before they are added? Or should all members of the no-fly list get that public hearing? Or are you assuming that Cat Stevens is unjustly added to the no fly list simply because he's a famous convert to Muslim? Or what? What's the fight really about here?
**I am assuming that statement "I just trust the government is doing the right thing" got alot of you up in arms. But that's really the heart of my confusion-what's the alternative? Is the government obligated to justify every name on the no fly list to the blogosphere? Am I expected to learn, understand, and confirm the justice of every name on the no fly list? Or just famous people? I mean really, what's the alternative to my trusting the govt, other that working full time studying the no-fly list justification hearings? I'm just not getting the controversy around this one former celebrity.

steve

Posted by: Steve | Sep 24, 2004 12:59:48 PM

Yesterday, Kevin Drum linked approvingly to a Juan Cole comment which was essentially stating that Cat Stevens got what he deserved. I'm glad Yglesias doesn't share the sentiment.

As I posted yesterday in Kevin's blog, this was another disturbing entry in Kevin's ongoing attempt to prove his "moderate" bona fides. I'm sure that instapundit and all the other conservatives who think that due process should be a privilege reserved for non-swarthy Christian Republicans will be greatly impressed by his, "Heh! Indeed!" dismissal of Stevens' expulsion. For a fairly intelligent man Kevin can be pretty damn unreflective.

Recycling my argument from yesterday, obviously, this is not about Stevens being an asshole or an idiot who got exactly what he deserved. Whatever his take was on the Iranian fatwa against Rushdie is irrelevant. Maybe he was just explaining Sharia to a journalist, maybe he was defending murder. Whatever. Anybody who as an adult adopts a set of medievalist supernatural beliefs and gives up on modernity, secularism and science is undoubtedly intellectually impaired, period. However, in a democracy nobody should be treated like an asshole and an idiot just because most of us think he's an asshole and an idiot.

The only relevant question here, is whether Stevens was either someone who committed a crime, or someone who was suspected of going to commit a crime. In either case, he should have been arrested and charged with a crime or conspiracy to commit a crime, whatever the case may be. Did the authorities actually think he was going to blow the plane up? Then they were negligent in letting him go. Did they have evidence that he's in any way, shape or form connected to terrorists? Then they were negligent in letting him go. (As an aside, turning a plane around made no sense since whether he committed a crime or was about to commit a crime, he could have been arrested wherever the plane landed. However, the theatricality with which the incident was handled should inform us as to the motivation behind it.)

If, on the other hand, he was not actually suspected of criminal activity but of perhaps, somehow, maybe sympathizing with Islamic terrorists, well, thought crimes are not yet crimes in this country. He should have been allowed to disembark and go about his business. Need I remind anyone that even visitors in the U.S. are afforded the protections and rights detailed in the U.S. Constitution?

Now, I fully expect someone stating that the INS has the right to refuse entry to anyone without explanation, and that's what they did. After all, this is post 9/11! It is obvious to me that no government agency in a democracy should have the right make any decision concerning any individual without providing that individual with a speedy, impartial mechanism for appealing that decision. Anything else is undemocratic and un-American. 9/11 did not suspend our basic freedoms.

Posted by: Aris | Sep 24, 2004 1:03:55 PM

For theology buffs, dominionism seems to be a subcategory of dispensationism. Armageddon plays a big role for both, and for them Armageddon is a good thing. Some groups want to apply Leviticus and Deuteronomy to US law. The superiority to Wahhabism isn't striking.

Dominionism

http://www.disinfopedia.org/wiki.phtml?title=Dominionism

Posted by: Zizka | Sep 24, 2004 1:06:04 PM

by the way:

"We've got a little thing here (or at least we're supposed to) called "the rule of law" whereby persons subjected to law enforcement sanctions are supposed to be guilty of the things they're actually accused of."

If we know and can prove that someone is guilty of planning or engaging in terrorist activity, wouldn't we just arrest, charge, and imprison them? Thus, according to this standard, the only people who can be added to a no-fly list are those that we have already (or intend to) arrest? Is that really what a no-fly list is for? To ban criminals already in jail from flying? Or are you arguing that that is what a no-fly list SHOULD be for (in essence, saying that a no-fly list is unjustified)? Or should people on the list be allowed to fly, then immediately charged with their crimes when they land? People who are overseas that should be added to the no-fly list can't be judged (since they are overseas), so names can only be added to the no fly list once they've flown and entered the country so that they can be charged with their crimes? And if they are found guilty, they can't be added to the list because they are in prison, but if they are innocent, they can't be added to the list because they are innocent? What's going on with this whole issue?

steve

Posted by: Steve | Sep 24, 2004 1:07:11 PM

What does the Bill of Rights have to do with getting a US visa ?

It's enough that you come from certain parts of the world and have a certain religion - not to get in.

Posted by: Ron | Sep 24, 2004 1:07:50 PM

Re the rule of law: from approximately the time you walk down the jetbridge to board an international flight, until the Immigration AND Customs dudes wave you past the blue line at the arrival hall, you are in a state of limbo where most of your rights (Constitutional if you are trying to enter the US) do not apply, regardless of what country you are a citizen of. This was true before 9/11 and its is 3x true today.

Or, as Neil Stephenson put it in a novel published before 9/11: after passing through Immigration [the protagonist] felt an uncontrollable urge to drive to the nearest gun shop and buy $3000 worth of guns.

That's the facts. Sorry.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | Sep 24, 2004 1:13:14 PM

Aris-
we are posting at exactly the same time. Its nice to see that you get it. If a no fly list bans only those guilty of criminal activity, then it can't exist-those guilty of criminal activity can be (should be) charged with the crime of which they are guilty! You are consistent-you are essentially saying that no fly lists aren't justified. I'm not convinced that you are right (I don't believe everyone in the world has a 'right' to come to the United States-rather, it is a privilege that can be extended or withdrawn based on the desires of the US citizenry). But I can accept the consistency of your argument as a starting point.

steve

Posted by: Steve | Sep 24, 2004 1:13:26 PM

I seem to recall he helped raise money for Hamas. But that would be OK in Matt's book, right?

Posted by: Zipity | Sep 24, 2004 1:17:39 PM

"But I'm trying to figure out exactly what the problem is. I assume there are several thousand people on the no fly list. Most of them try to get on a plane and fail, or get on the plane, and are then caught and deported (like Cat Stevens)."
Maybe not internationally, although it doesn't make the US look good if people are arbitrarily put on the list. Crooked Timber had a satire about the Cat Stevens thing by using a Marxist scholar as an example. Also recall the 70+ peace activist from Ireland who had tied to IRA a long time ago. She now is now on our no-fly list. She has family in the US and it's pretty ludicrous to stop her from flying. I think it makes us look like the old Soviet Union. Actually I'm becoming more convinced the Bush administration is trying to convert us into a capitalistic version of the USSR.
But *domestically* I do care strongly. Remember how Ted Kennedy was arbitrarily banned from flying because an E Kennedy or Edward Kennedy was on the no-fly list? How many E Kennedys or Edward Kennedys are out there unable to fly but without the power of a Ted? I used to know an Edward Kennedy who also lived in Palm Beach, where Ted had a second home. I also know at least one other E Kennedy (though she didn't experience flying problems back in July). It's arbitrary, ridiculous and people have no way to appeal.

Posted by: lou | Sep 24, 2004 1:17:55 PM

> Actually I'm becoming more convinced the
> Bush administration is trying to convert us
> into a capitalistic version of the USSR.

I realize the F word is frowned upon but I think the word you are looking for is fascism.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | Sep 24, 2004 1:19:43 PM

rea writes: He denies giving any money to either Hamas or Abdel-Rahman, and nobody has actually bothered to produce any evidence to contradict his denial . . .

I don't think he denies that he gave money to Hamas and Abdel-Rahman's son, but rather he denies that he gave it to them for purposes of supporting violent jihad/terrorism. He claims his intentions were to donate to the charitable causes Hamas supports.

According to a May 2003 GQ Article by Jake Tapper (unfortunately not available online, as best as I can tell), Stevens gave 4000 pounds - in two separate meetings - to Sheikh Jamil Hamami - a senior Hamas operative. Stevens claims the money was intended for needy individuals in refugee camps, which seems IMO, more in keeping with his public statements, despite his support of the Khomeini fatwa against Salman Rushdie as a "deterrent" against further blasphemies against Islam.

The Tapper article say Stevens "insisted he was not affiliated in any way ith terrorist groups, that he was 'supporting orphans in Hebron, and all my donations in the past were given to humanitarian causes. I want to make sure that people are aware that I've never ever knowingly [empahsis added] supported any terrorist groups - past, pressent or future."

Personally, I'm against the decision to place him on a terrorism watch list that would ban him from entering the country. Obviously, he was not a danger to the people on the airplane.

But I wouldn't be against putting him on a different list where he could be monitored to make sure he doesn't "unknowingly" give money to terrorist groups in the future.

Posted by: SoCalJustice | Sep 24, 2004 1:23:30 PM

You folks seem to be confusing the rights we enjoy as citizens, versus the "rights" of citizens to enter our country. There is no absolute right for citizens of other countries to enter our country. And no, they do not have to be carrying a cartoon bomb with a lit fuse to be a danger. It's enough that he is an adherent of the religious bastardization of Islam known as Wahhabism.

Posted by: Zipity | Sep 24, 2004 1:25:50 PM

We've got a little thing here (or at least we're supposed to) called "the rule of law" whereby persons subjected to law enforcement sanctions are supposed to be guilty of the things they're actually accused of.

Read about asset forfeiture laws some time. Especially in the recent context of the Stanford Law Call Girl. I think it was on Volokh.

Besides, Me First and the Gimme Gimme's have a way better version of Wild World than Cat Stevens ever did.

Posted by: Jake McGuire | Sep 24, 2004 1:29:14 PM

Quote by Zipity: "I seem to recall he helped raise money for Hamas. But that would be OK in Matt's book, right?"

I thought Israel accused him of that action, and it is unproven. But lack of evidence is OK in Zipity's world, right? Lack of evidence to lock up Hamadi for three years without counsel was OK, right?

Other quote "It's enough that he is an adherent of the religious bastardization of Islam known as Wahhabism."

So are we locking out all Saudi government officials from US flights? Oh, we aren't? How about that...

Matt's Quote: "I wouldn't say I have any sympathy for Ann "I Wish Terrorists Would Blow Up The New York Times" Coulter, but if she were to get arrested on some random, bogus charge I'd still be upset."

Not me baby! Burn, bitch, burn!

Posted by: Al | Sep 24, 2004 1:31:02 PM

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