‘NYT’ Sunday Preview: Trying to Get Cat Stevens To Back or Bash Hamas

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By: E&P Staff

Most of Deborah Solomon’s interview with once and current folk-rock singer Cat Stevens — known for many years now as Yusuf Islam — for this coming Sunday’s New York Times is amiable enough, as he discusses his recent return to recording and his funding of Muslim schools in England.

But then she raises the obviously still touchy issue of attempts abroad to link him to funding various extremist groups, including Hamas. He had just said he still sells about 1.5 million albums a year netting him a small fortune. What does he think of Hamas?

“That’s an extremely loaded question,” he replies. Pressed further, he says, “I have never supported a terrorist group or any group that did other than charity and good to humankind.”

Solomon responds by saying, fine, but many Americans would like moderate Muslims, such as himself, to denounce the extremists. Wouldn’t he at least say he has “contempt” for Hamas?

“I wouldn’t put those words in my mouth,” he complains. “I wouldn’t say anything on that issue. I’m here to talk about peace. I’m a man who does want peace for this world,” says the man who wrote “Peace Train,” adding, “and I don’t think you will achieve that by putting people into corners and asking them very, very difficult questions about very contentious issues.”

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