Beliefnet
JERUSALEM, July 13 (AP) - The man who gained fame as pop star Cat Stevens was denied entry into Israel and deported hours after arriving, officials said Thursday - reportedly because he gave money to a militant Islamic group during his last visit.

Defense Ministry officials refused to comment on Yusuf Islam's case other than to say that the Shin Bet, Israel's internal intelligence agency, had ordered the man who wrote such songs as ``Peace Train'' and ``Wild World'' barred from the country.

Islam, 51, who changed his name after becoming a Muslim in the late 1970s, last visited Israel in 1988. The government claims that during that trip he delivered tens of thousand of dollars to Hamas, a militant Islamic group, the Maariv daily reported.

Two years later, in 1990, he tried to enter again along with his 8-year-old son but was barred.

This time, the former singer arrived at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday and was detained by airport authorities when his name appeared on a list of people banned from Israel, Maariv reported. It quoted him as telling an Israeli entertainment show, ``They locked me in a two-meter by two-meter cell without water or a bathroom, and then deported me. I don't see any reason for this to happen in a time of peace.''

Airport authorities denied that the former singer was mistreated, Maariv said. They said he was kept in the departure lounge until the plane he arrived on returned to Germany.

The former singer, who was born Stephen Georgiou, took Cat Stevens as a stage name and had a string of hits in the early 1970s. He abandoned his music career in 1977 and changed his name after being persuaded by orthodox Muslim teachers that his lifestyle was forbidden by Islamic law.

He later began teaching and actively spreading the word of his religion, founding a Muslim school in 1983. He made headlines when he supported the death sentence issued by Iran against author Salman Rushdie.

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