‘Why must we go on hating?’ Yusuf Islam honors Christchurch victims with his classics

Yusuf Islam is also known as Cat Stevens. (AFP)
Updated 29 March 2019

‘Why must we go on hating?’ Yusuf Islam honors Christchurch victims with his classics

  • One of the songs he performed was his 1971 smash “Peace Train”
  • The Muslim singer recalled worshipping at Masjid Al Noor, one of the targeted mosques, in December of 2017

British singer-songwriter Yusuf Islam delivered an emotional performance of some of his hit songs on Friday, as part of New Zealand’s National Remembrance Service in Christchurch.

Islam, who is also known as Cat Stevens, took to a makeshift stage at Hagley Park, where some 20,000 people gathered to honor victims of the March 15 terrorist attack in Christchurch that killed 50 worshippers.

One of the songs he performed was his 1971 smash “Peace Train,” which had lines like: "Now I've been crying lately, thinking about the world as it is. Why must we go on hating? Why can't we live in bliss?"

In an interview with a local media outlet, the Muslim singer recalled worshipping at Masjid Al Noor, one of the targeted mosques, in December of 2017, where he ended his “Peace Train” 50th anniversary tour.

He could still remember some of the faces of those at the memorial service, he said.

“As a city I remember a peaceful, orderly place and very nice people and suddenly this monster enters the fray and starts shooting and picks his target,” Islam told local media company Stuff, while noting the “incredible backlash of kindness and love and unity” from the public, especially from people in New Zealand.

“The government rarely does anything of any importance in the aftermath. Here (New Zealand) the story is different… The way in which the indigenous population is part of the culture and is preserved, honored and respected. You don't see that in the US,” Islam, who is presumably one of the most prominent Muslims in the West, said.

Asked about how he ended up doing the performance, Islam said: “I haven't done that much recently. We got the invitation from Prime Minister's office. It was like, 'wow' this is a big step, but it's one I've got to take. We need to be here.”

The 70-year-old singer was joined on stage by double-bassist Bruce Lynch.

One attendee took a video of the performance:

 


Trump finally dons mask as US sets new virus case record

Updated 12 July 2020

Trump finally dons mask as US sets new virus case record

  • “I’ve never been against masks but I do believe they have a time and a place,” POTUS tells reporters
  • The US is the worst hit by COVID-19, with more than 3.2 million cases and at least 134,000 deaths as of Saturday

BETHESDA, USA: President Donald Trump finally yielded to pressure and wore a face mask in public for the first time on Saturday as the US posted another daily record for coronavirus cases, while Disney World reopened in a state hit hard by the pandemic.

White House experts leading the national fight against the contagion have recommended wearing face coverings in public to prevent transmission of the illness.

But Trump had repeatedly avoided wearing a mask, even after staffers at the White House tested positive for the virus and as more aides have taken to wearing them.

Hours after the World Health Organization urged countries to step up control measures to rein in the disease, Trump donned a dark mask bearing the presidential seal as he visited wounded military veterans at the Walter Reed military hospital in a suburb outside Washington.

“I’ve never been against masks but I do believe they have a time and a place,” he told reporters as he left the White House.

Trump is trailing Democrat Joe Biden in the polls ahead of a November election and surveys show most Americans are unhappy with how he has handled the public health crisis.

But the president has continued to praise his own response to the pandemic despite a cascade of figures showing the extent of the disease’s spread across the United States.

 

Record-breaking numbers

The country posted yet another daily record of confirmed cases on Saturday night, with 66,528 new infections, while the death toll rose by almost 800 to nearly 135,000.

As of Saturday, the US had recorded more than 3.2 million coronavirus cases and at least 134,000 deaths from the disease. 

It is the country worst hit by the illness, followed by Brazil — which surpassed 70,000 deaths on Friday.

The coronavirus pandemic has infected over 12.5 million people, killed over 560,000 and triggered massive economic damage since the disease was first detected in China late last year.

In Florida, where nearly one in six of those new infections were recorded, the Walt Disney World theme park partially reopened after four months of shutdown prompted by the virus.

Hundreds of people queued to enter the park in Orlando, some sporting Mickey ears but all wearing face masks, with social distancing and other hygiene precautions also in place.

Days earlier, top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said that Florida had begun reopening before meeting the criteria that would have enabled it to do so safely.

 

Aggressive approach urged

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on countries to adopt an aggressive approach to tackling the virus, citing successful mitigation efforts in Italy, South Korea and elsewhere.

“Across all walks of life, we are all being tested to the limit,” he told a virtual news conference in Geneva on Friday.
“Only aggressive action combined with national unity and global solidarity can turn this pandemic around,” he added.

Elsewhere, French officials warned of rising cases in metropolitan France as the death toll there topped 30,000.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted a decision to allow bars and other businesses to reopen may have come “too soon” after his country reported a record 1,500 new infections on Friday.

Australian authorities said they would slash by half the number of people allowed to return from overseas each day after a fresh surge in cases that saw a lockdown imposed on Melbourne, the country’s second-largest city.

In Hong Kong, a spike has marked a setback for the city after daily life had largely returned to normal, with restaurants and bars resuming regular business and cultural attractions reopening.

Schools in the city will be closed from Monday after the city recorded “exponential growth” in locally transmitted infections.