Islamic singer Yusuf Islam, who enjoyed several pop hits under the name Cat Stevens before becoming a Muslim, has condemned the recent terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.
"I wish to express my heartfelt horror at the indiscriminate terrorist attacks committed against innocent people of the United States," Islam wrote on his official Web site.
A Universal Music spokesperson confirmed the comments were written by the singer, who drew the ire of many in the late '80s by reportedly supporting the Ayatollah Khomeini's proclamation of a death sentence for novelist Salman Rushdie.
In his statement, Islam emphasized that the terrorists' actions contradict the peaceful teachings of Islam. "No right-thinking follower of Islam could possibly condone such an action," he wrote. "The Quran equates the murder of one innocent person with the murder of the whole of humanity."
Islam said his thoughts are with the victims and their families, and he stressed that most Muslims share his views.
His comments are especially poignant considering the backlash Islam encountered when the British press reported that he supported Rushdie's death sentence, handed down by the Iranian leader because the author's novel "The Satanic Verses" allegedly blasphemed the Quran. Some classic rock stations refused to play his music and 10,000 Maniacs pulled a cover of the singer's "Peace Train" from pressings of their 1987 album, In My Tribe.
In interviews last year to promote the re-release of his catalog, Islam said he was misquoted by the English media and did not support Khomeini. The singer made headlines again in July 2000 when he was detained and deported from Israel while at an airport in Jerusalem. It was the second time he had been denied admittance to the country since 1990. Two years prior, the Israeli government had accused him of donating tens of thousands of dollars to Islamic terrorist group Hamas.
Before becoming a Muslim in 1977 and changing his name, Stevens enjoyed a successful pop career, releasing 11 albums and scoring such hits as "Moon Shadow," "Wild World" and "Peace Train."
Following a 17-year hiatus from the music biz, he returned in 1995 and has since released three albums of Islam-themed pop, The Life of the Last Prophet (1995), Prayers of the Last Prophet (1999) and the children's record A Is for Allah (2000). He has sold more than 40 million albums, though few of those are from his Yusuf Islam era.