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Yusuf Islam to Sue US Govt.

InternationalProminent British Muslim activist Yusuf Islam, formerly known as famous pop singer Cat Stevens, said Friday, September 24, he began a legal action against the US government over its refusal to allow him into the country.

“We have now initiated a legal process to try to find out exactly what is going on, and to take all necessary steps to undo the very serious, and wholly unfounded, injustice which I have suffered,” Agence France Presse (AFP) quoted Islam as saying.

A London-to-Washington flight carrying Islam was forced Thursday, September 23, to be diverted to another US airport after US officials identified that the Muslim revert was reportedly on one of their “watch lists”.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell defended as “legal” the US authorities’ decision to deny Islam’s a visa.

“It is the procedure that we have been using to know who is coming into our country, know their backgrounds and interests and see whether we believe it is appropriate for them to come in,” he said.

Black Episode

Islam said his experience with the US authorities was like a black episode in his life.

“Never would I believe that such a thing could happen in the land of the free - unfortunately, it did.

“My interrogators repeatedly wanted to know how my name was spelt; it sounded to me as though they had it mixed up with someone else's,” he said.

He added he had no information about the motives behind the US move.

“The amazing thing is that I was not given, and have still not been given, any explanation whatsoever as to what it is I am accused of, or why I am now deemed an apparent security threat -- let alone given an opportunity to respond to these allegations. I was simply told that the order had come from on high.”

The detention and deportation of the prominent Muslim activist had drawn strong outrages of the Muslim communities in the United States and Britain.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has further raised the issue with his Powell.

“He did say to the secretary of state that this action should not have been taken,” Straw's spokesman was quoted as saying by Britain 's Press Association.

Islam became Muslim in 1977. Following a 17-year hiatus from the music business, he returned in 1995 and has since released three albums of Islamic-related songs.

He has become a prominent member of Britain 's Muslim community and devoted himself to charity work and peace campaigning.

Islam is head of the Islamia Schools trust and has met UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as well as Prince Charles and Home Secretary David Blunkett in his new role.

Apart from his schools work, Islam also has founded a charity raising money for orphans and families affected by war in areas such as Kosovo , Bosnia and Iraq .

Last year he released a re-recording of his 1970s hit “Peace Train” to express his opposition to the invasion of Iraq .

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