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The dissonant undertones of M.I.A.

To many Americans,Maya Arulpragasam,known as M.I.A.,is the very pregnant rapper who gyrated across the stage at Sunday’s Grammy Awards.

Written by New York Times | Colombo | Published: February 12, 2009 11:54 pm

To many Americans,Maya Arulpragasam,known as M.I.A.,is the very pregnant rapper who gyrated across the stage at Sunday’s Grammy Awards. But those who do know her work say she is an apologist for the LTTE rebels fighting in the country’s long-running civil war.

M.I.A.,nominated for an Oscar for her song in Slumdog Millionaire — has branded herself through music videos as the voice of the country’s Tamil minority. In the video for her song Bird Flu,for instance,children dance in front of what looks like the rebels’ logo: a roaring tiger.

“Being the only Tamil in the Western media,I have a really great opportunity to sort of bring forward what’s going on in Sri Lanka,” she said in an interview on the PBS programme Tavis Smiley last month.

M.I.A.’s claims that the Government is carrying out genocide against Tamils place her on the outer fringe of opinion about the conflict.

M.I.A. was born in Britain but moved to Sri Lanka when she was six months old so that her father,a leader in the Tamil separatist movement,could help fight for an independent Tamil homeland.

Her song Paper Planes,which compares international drug dealing to selling records,drew a reaction from a Sinhalese rapper,who made a video remix showing people being blown up by LTTE bombs and subtitles about M.I.A. being a terrorist.

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