Folk icon Yusuf Islam has revisited controversial remarks he made about the Islamic fatwa placed on author Salman Rushdie over two decades ago in a new Rolling Stone interview, insisting he was never a supporter of the death threat.
Rushdie went into hiding after Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini declared the writer had insulted Muslims with his depiction of the prophet Muhammad in 1988 novel The Satanic Verses - and therefore must die under Islamic law.
Yusuf, aka Cat Stevens, who became a Muslim convert in the late 1970s, sparked controversy in 1989 when he told students in London Rushdie "must be killed".
He added, "The (religious book) Quran makes it clear: If someone defames the prophet, then he must die."
But, addressing the drama in a new Rolling Stone interview, Yusuf wishes people would stop asking him about comments he made over 25 years ago.
He says, "People need to get over it... I've got grey hair now. Come on. I was fool enough to try and be honest and tell people my position. As far as I'm concerned, this shouldn't be the subject of my life."
But the singer/songwriter adds, "I'm a firm believer of the law. I was never a supporter of the fatwa, but people don't want to hear that because they keep saying that I believe in the law of blasphemy. All I'm saying is, how can you deny the Third Commandment? It's an Islamic principle that you must follow the law of the land where you reside."
The publication of Yusuf's remarks comes as the world reacts to the terrorist attack on the offices of satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo - gunmen stormed the publication's headquarters in Paris on Wednesday (07Jan15), killing 12 people, including journalists, cartoonists and editor Stephane Charbonnier.
The attack is believed to have been carried out by Islamic extremists upset by cartoons depicting Muslim prophet Muhammad.
Author Rushdie has condemned the atrocities, insisting, "Religion deserves our fearless disrespect", and stating the terrorist attack is a sign of "the deadly mutation in the heart of Islam".
Rushdie and Charbonnier were named on Islamic terrorist group Al Qaeda's 'most wanted' list last year (14). It is believed militants supporting the organisation carried out the Paris attack.