M.I.A. Accused Of Supporting Terrorists By Sri Lankan Rapper

By Allen Starbury   /   Published 08/06/08

M.I.A.British rapper M.I.A., who is of Sri Lankan descent, is being accused of supporting terrorists, despite denying those accusations in the past.

In a 2005 interview with Australian paper The Age, M.I.A. (real name: Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam) says, "I've heard lots of people say that I'm part of a terrorist group and I'm singing about that, and singing songs for them, but that's wack, I'd never do that."

Another Sri Lankan hip-hop artist by the name of DeLon doesn't agree. In a YouTube video posted in late July, which remixes M.I.A.'s track "Paper Planes," DeLon claims that the British rapper used imagery from the Liberation Tiger Tamils of Eelam (LTTE), a Sri Lankan terrorist group.

DeLon's version re-cuts M.I.A. version with Tamil Tiger bombings and child soldiers, and openly questions whether M.I.A. supports terrorists. DeLon notes that M.I.A. consistently uses tigers in imagery -- on clothes, in videos -- and that M.I.A. has called her father a "freedom fighter."

A little back-story: Her father is credited as a co-founder of a militant pro-Tamil group called EROS, which, in turn, was once linked to the Tamil Tigers. The Tigers have been labeled a terrorist group by many countries, including the United States.

"In the video, we didn't really accuse her of being a Tamil Tiger," Marshall Shen, head of DeLon's record label, Ceylon, told E!. "But we're asking, why she is putting these images out there if she doesn't support them?"

DeLon's video is no longer available on YouTube. Interscope served the rapper with a cease-and-desist, claiming the video endangers "M.I.A.'s reputation as a freedom fighter."

In response, DeLon and his label has filed a lawsuit against Interscope/UMG for infringement of his First Amendment rights.

The video is available for download at Public.Me.Com.

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