Yesterday I expressed skepticism at Yusuf Islam’s claim that he never supported the death fatwa against Salman Rushdie. Jihad Watch reader Tex emailed me this late last night:
Mr. Islam is lying through his teeth. I saw him on at least two separate occasions around ’89/90 openly advocating the death penalty against Rushdie.
The most telling was his appearance on the ‘Geoffrey Robertson’s Hypotheticals’ program, a sort-of round table discussion/debate dealing with the fatwah.
Islam was asked specifically what he would do if he came upon Rushdie. He said he would telephone the ayatollah and make sure Rushdie’s whereabouts were made known to people “who would do more damage to him than I could”.
Tex is right: see this New York Times story from May 23, 1989: “Cat Stevens Gives Support To Call for Death of Rushdie,” by Craig R. Whitney (thanks to all who sent this in):
LONDON, May 22 — The musician known as Cat Stevens said in a British television program to be broadcast next week 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.”
The singer, who adopted the name Yusuf Islam when he converted to Islam, made the remark during a panel discussion of British reactions to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s call for Mr. Rushdie to be killed for allegedly blaspheming Islam in his best-selling novel ”The Satanic Verses.” He also said 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,” said Mr. Islam, who watched a preview of the program today and said in an interview that he stood by his comments.