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Salman Rushdie on Cat Stevens' Rally Appearance: What Was Jon Stewart Thinking?



Maybe a better name for Jon Stewart’s rally would’ve been “Multicultural-Sensitivity Suicide Rally.” Or maybe Colbert wasn’t kidding about keeping the fear alive. According to Nick Cohen at Standpoint, Salman Rushdie, the author forced into hiding for years because of the Cat Stevens (Yusaf Islam) approved fatwa on his head, is just as confused as everyone else:

I’ve always liked Stewart and Colbert but what on earth was Cat Yusuf Stevens Islam doing on that stage? If he’s a “good Muslim” like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar then I’m the Great Pumpkin. Happy Halloween.”

Stevens-Islam has been trying to backtrack from his comments for some time now, claiming they were some kind of joke. Does he look like he’s putting everyone on in that video? Rushdie isn’t buying the joke excuse either:

However much Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam may wish to rewrite his past, he was neither misunderstood nor misquoted over his views on the Khomeini fatwa against The Satanic Verses (Seven, April 29). In an article in The New York Times on May 22, 1989, Craig R Whitney reported Stevens/Islam saying on a British television programme “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’.”

He added 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’.”

In a subsequent interview with The New York Times, Mr Whitney added, Stevens/Islam, who had seen a preview of the programme, said that he “stood by his comments”.

Let’s have no more rubbish about how “green” and innocent this man was.

Had Stevens/Islam apologized and renounced his despicable call for Rushdie’s execution, that might be different. Instead, he’s quite obviously lying about making what would be a sick and dangerous joke anyway, and the only person on the planet who appears to believe him is Jon Stewart.

Where is the “sanity” and “moderation” in allowing such a man to perform at your predominantly white political event?

Who will Stewart and Colbert invite to their 2012 rally? Mimes who approve of shooting abortion doctors? Interpretative dance as performed by The Timothy McVeigh Had a Point League?

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