YUSUF Islam, known to his fans around the world as Cat Stevens, faces an indefinite wait for an American visa because of President Donald Trump’s travel bans.
The British folk legend who is Australia to launch his 50th anniversary tour, has been waiting months for his US visa to be approved.
He was denied entry to the US in 2004 but has visited there several times since then to tour and took his A Cat’s Attic: 50th Anniversary Acoustic shows to New York and other cities last September.
Now known not-so-simply as Yusuf/Cat Stevens, the 68-year-old entertainer is also in Australia to develop an animated children’s television show based on his music with the team behind the Beat Bugs series.
“I would definitely like Mr Trump to use his influence, whatever is left of it, to rush my visa forward because I’ve already missed the Grammys and I might even give him a free ticket to one of my concerts,” he said in Sydney.
“He’s not exactly keeping me out but it’s become a drawn-out process. Those orders, it’s such a horrible paintbrush he’s using.
“I heard about the experience of your children’s book writer (Mem Fox). Come on, wake up, wake up. Leaders should unite people, that should be one of the primary objectives of leaders, not divide.”
Yusuf returned to Australia in 2010, his first tour here in 36 years, to rave reviews.
His next visit for the world premiere of the Moonshadow musical was less successful with its run cut short but proved to be an “enlightening experience” for the entertainer.
He said it ultimately inspired the children’s series he is now working on with the Beat Bugs team.
“It’s wonderful here. I measure the level of tolerance by how much they love Cat Stevens and Yusuf Islam together,” he said.
“And here I am very much at home, I feel very, very welcome.”
Many of his best-loved songs including Peace Train and Wild World, resonate as strongly with audiences now as they did in the 1970s.
He quit music for almost three decades when he embraced Islam in 1977, discovering the Koran after embarking on a spiritual quest provoked by almost drowning when he was swept out by a rip off Malibu.
“I started reading Buddhist metaphysical books and it ended up with me reading the Koran, which became the book that encapsulated everything for me,” he said.
“What you have to remember again is this happened in a much more peaceful time, when there was no smothering of the name of Islam.
“In 1977 there was no Iranian revolution, it hadn’t happened, and the Koran was a spiritual book.
“That’s the difference with now because there is such a barricade for people to get through to the meaning of being a Muslim.”
Yusuf said his break from music was “just getting down to living the songs. Walking the talk.”
He made a return to playing and writing about 16 years ago when his son Yoriyos left a guitar strategically placed in the house where they enjoying a holiday in Dubai.
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