The man who gained fame as pop star Cat Stevens was denied entry into Israel and deported hours after arriving because he supports Hamas, a militant Islamist group, officials said today.
The former British music star, who has gone by the name Yusuf Islam for more than 20 years, landed in Israel on a flight from Germany early on Wednesday. He was held at the airport for several hours and sent back to Germany, government spokesman Moshe Fogel said.
Islam, who now sings only for his mosque, had “transferred funds” to Hamas in the past, Fogel told Reuters.
“There was a problem with allowing him into the country because he is a Hamas supporter,” he said. “He didn’t seem like he was coming here for summer tourism. Any country has the right to prevent terror within its own borders.”
Fogel said Islam’s trip was intended to show support for the Palestinian cause while Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat were trying to hammer out a final peace deal at the U.S. presidential retreat at Camp David.