Two months later Yusuf Islam appeared on a British television program, BBC's Hypotheticals, an occasional broadcast featuring a panel of notable guests to explore a hypothetical situation with moral, ethical and/or political dilemmas. In the episode ("A Satanic Scenario"), Islam had an exchange about the issue with the moderator and Queens Counsel Geoffrey Robertson. Islam would later clarify the exchanges as "stupid and offensive jokes" made "in bad taste", but "part of a well-known British national trait ... dry humour on my part."
Robertson: You don't think that this man deserves to die?
Y. Islam: Who, Salman Rushdie?
Y. Islam: Yes, yes.
Robertson: And do you have a duty to be his executioner?
Y. Islam: Uh, no, not necessarily, unless we were in an Islamic state and I was ordered by a judge or by the authority to carry out such an act - perhaps, yes.
Robertson: Would you be part of that protest, Yusuf Islam, would you go to a demonstration where you knew that an effigy was going to be burned?
Y. Islam: I would have hoped that it'd be the real thing
The New York Times also reports this statement from the program: I might ring somebody who might do more damage to him than he would like. I'd try to phone the Ayatollah Khomeini and tell him exactly where this man is.
Later Stevens stated the following about his above mentioned comments:
I foolishly made light of certain provocative questions. When asked what I’d do if Salman Rushdie entered a restaurant in which I was eating, I said, “I would probably call up Ayatollah Khomeini”; and, rather than go to a demonstration to burn an effigy of the author, I jokingly said I would have preferred that it'd be the “real thing”.
The content of the broadcast was reported in The New York Times on May 23, 1989, a week before the show's planned airing. He and other Muslim participants "objected to cuts" that "omitted the Muslim justification for punishment of blasphemy."
According to Stevens, his last comments on the innocence of Rushdie, were not a joke:
Providentially, they kept in one important response to a final question posed directly to me by Geoffrey Robertson QC. At the end of the debate he asked me to imagine if Salman Rushdie was taken to court in Britain and the Jury found him ‘not guilty’ of any crime – Blasphemy or otherwise – and dismissed the case, what I would do. I clearly stated that I would have to accept the decision and fully abide by the law! And that was no joke.