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Brit Awards Wednesday, 17 February, 1999, 04:08 GMT
Brits launch for debt campaign
bono and ali
Bono presents the award to Muhammad Ali
U2 singer Bono has joined forces with boxing legend Muhammad Ali to launch a campaign to cancel debts in developing countries.

The Brit Awards
The duo joined a host of celebrities at the Brit Awards in London to show their backing for Jubilee 2000. This organisation is demanding Western governments cancel debt repayments by the new millennium.

Bono launched the campaign on the Brits stage, passing the Freddie Mercury Award - for outstanding charitable works - to Muhammad Ali, acting as an abassador for the campaign.

He said: "It is the desire of most people's hearts to do something for people who don't have much.

"Since Live Aid with Bob Geldof there hasn't been a co-ordinated attempt to do something about poverty.

"We raised 200m with Geldof, but Third World countries pay that much every week in debts. Every 1 we send to Africa, they owe 9."

damon albarn
Damon Albarn: Sentiment is "profoundly Western"
He paid tribute to Muhammad Ali, who received a standing ovation from the audience at the London Arena.

"He is a man who changed the world's views about race, and he would not go and fight in Vietnam - and he went to jail for it. He is a man of morals."

The Prodigy's Keith Flint also joined the campaign by having "Drop The Debt" tattooed on his back.

But the campaign found itself under attack from Blur's Damon Albarn, who said the sight of pop stars preaching worthy ideals at an awards was "hypocrisy".

He told BBC Radio 4's Front Row programme: "Musicians, artists should have nothing to do with anything like that. Their power should be in their music, their words and their images.

"Bono is very well meaning, and has probably got a very good heart, but the idea of them and 1,000 people, all tanked-up, all toasting this kind of great sentiment - the level of hypocrisy in all standing up for Third World debt to be abolished - it's profoundly Western."

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U2 singer Bono explains what Jubilee 2000 is all about
See also:

16 Feb 99 | UK
17 Feb 99 | Brit Awards
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