I have written on the issue in the past, have done so again recently and am doing so again. This is due to the fact that I keep finding more information about it and due to that fact that, as I elucidate in my last essay on the issue, some people have decided to condemn the messengers providing the facts whilst excusing Cat Stevens / Yusuf Islam for supporting death for blasphemy.
During a televised discussion of a hypothetical scenario the following exchange took place:
Geoffrey Robertson: You don't think that this man deserves to die?
Yusuf Islam: Who, Salman Rushdie?
Geoffrey Robertson: Yes.
Yusuf Islam: Yes, yes.
Geoffrey Robertson: And do you have a duty to be his executioner?
Yusuf Islam: Uh, no, not necessarily, unless we were in an Islamic state and I was ordered by a judge or by the authority to carry out such an act - perhaps, yes.…
Geoffrey Robertson: Would you be part of that protest, Yusuf Islam, would you go to a demonstration where you knew that an effigy was going to be burned?
Yusuf Islam: I would have hoped that it'd be the real thing
On his own website Cat Stevens / Yusuf Islam wrote Didn't He Say ‘Kill Rushdie!’? which is one of his many attempts to explain away and excuse his support of death for blasphemy,
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.
Stevens / Islam claims that his statements were misunderstood because, at least some of them, were made during a consideration of a hypothetical scenario. Yet, the scenario was realistic namely: the real life, real world situation in which Rushdie’s life was in danger. They hypothetical came in the form of being asked about what he would do if he attended a demonstration where Rushdie's effigy would be burned, what if Rushdie came to his doorstep, etc.
A hypothetical is still asking what one would do in a particular situation and does not ask for one to put one’s worldview aside and behave and think any differently.
Due to his particular and peculiar views, he missed a chance to say something to the likes of,
I consider Salman Rushdie to be my neighbor, and so I am to love and pray for him.
He is, in fact, my enemy, and so I am to love and pray for him.
He hates Islam, and so I am to love and pray for him.
He has cursed Islam, and so I am to love and pray for him.
He persecutes Islam, and so I am to love and pray for him.
He spitefully uses Islam, and so I am to love and pray for him.
He mistreats Islam, and so I am to love and pray for him.
Yet, he could not say this because these are Biblical injunctions and not Qur'anic.
Let us consider these claims: Claim:
“I never called for the death of Salman Rushdie.”
“Salman Rushdie or indeed any writer who abuses the prophet, or indeed any prophet, under Islamic law, the sentence for that is actually death.”
“He must be killed. The Qur'an makes it clear - if someone defames the prophet, then he must die.”
“the actual principle of blasphemy and capital punishment, well…yeah, its there in the Qur'an. I couldn't deny that.”
If Rushdie came to his doorstep, “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.”
As for the demonstration where Rushdie's effigy would be burned, "I would have hoped that it'd be the real thing."
Asked, “do you have a duty to be his executioner?” he answers “perhaps, yes.”
As to his hopes that Rushdie would really be burned to death, Cat / Yusuf later stated, “I jokingly said I would have preferred that it'd be the ‘real thing.’” He may be musically talented but not comically. Where is the humor? Salman Rushdie has been condemned to death and has to live his life in hiding and that peace child jokes about hoping to see him burned to death.
Moreover, if he is simply being misunderstood why, upon later reflecting on the whose fracas, did he state, “I needed to go through a whole period of learning and to understand the politics of, you know, of life in the big world”?
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