Page last updated at 14:33 GMT, Friday, 8 August 2008 15:33 UK

Singer MIA denies terror support

M.I.A's single Paper Planes has become an unexpected hit in the US

British-born hip-hop artist MIA has countered accusations that she supports terrorism after US chart success put the spotlight on her political views.

Sri Lankan rapper DeLon said the singer's artwork and lyrics condoned the actions of the Tamil Tigers.

MIA is herself the daughter of a militant Tamil Tiger activist.

In a statement, the US-based artist described her music as "the voice of a civilian refugee" and said: "I don't support terrorism and never have."

DeLon's accusations came in a YouTube video, in which he rapped over MIA's single Paper Planes while showing graphic images of violence connected to the Tamil Tigers.

He claimed that, by using images of the tiger and discussing violence in her lyrics, she was promoting the aims of the Sri Lankan separatist organisation.

"You know what the tiger represents: The death of the innocent," he said.


But MIA, real name is Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam, claimed her accuser was just trying to gain publicity.

"As a Sri Lankan that fled war and bombings, my music is the voice of the civilian refugee," she said in the statement to US website Pitchfork.

"Frankly, I am not trying to start dialogue with someone who is really just seeking self-promotion."

While still an underground star in the UK, MIA is currently experiencing success in the US.

Paper Planes, based around a sample of The Clash's Straight To Hell, has reached number 16 in the singles chart after being included in the trailer for comedy film Pineapple Express.

The song attracted controversy when it was first released at the end of last year, thanks to its use of gunshot sound effects and lyrics such as: "Some I murder, some I let go".

But the singer defended the track, saying it was a comment on how immigrants and refugees can turn to violence because "people don't really feel like [they] contribute to culture in any way".

She also attacked MTV, who censored the gunshots, saying the network had "sabotaged" the meaning of her song.

The singer had previously been criticised for the lyrics to her 2006 single Sunshowers, which allegedly expressed vague support for the Tamil Tigers.

The record told the story of a suicide bomber, and contained the line: "Like PLO, don't surrender".

MTV USA refused to play the video without a disclaimer against the lyrics.

Tamil Tigers: A fearsome force
02 May 00 |  South Asia


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