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Cat Stevens to Receive Peace Prize in Rome

Rome – The singer once known as Cat Stevens, now a peace activist whose name was on a U.S. list of people suspected of having terrorist links, will receive a peace prize from a foundation headed by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, organizers said Monday.

The singer, now named Yusuf Islam, is expected to attend the ceremony on Rome’s Capitoline Hill on Wednesday, said Enzo Cursio, a spokesman for the Gorbachev Foundation. Islam will receive the award from Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni and Gorbachev, the spokesman said.

In September, the British musician was expelled from the United States after authorities diverted his London-to-Washington flight to Maine to remove him, saying he was suspected of ties to terrorism.

He says he was a victim of an “unjust and arbitrary system,” and that he has denounced terrorism.

The “Man for Peace” award was being given to Islam “for his dedication to promote peace, the reconciliation of people and to condemn terrorism,” said a press release by the Gorbachev Foundation and Rome’s City Hall.

The ceremony Wednesday will mark the opening of the fifth reunion of Nobel Peace Prize laureates, a meeting organized every year in Rome by the Gorbachev Foundation. The reunion ends Friday.

Other recipients of the “Man for Peace” award include Italian actor-director Roberto Benigni, who won in 2002. Benigni is the director of the Oscar-winning “Life is Beautiful.”

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