M.I.A: Nothing negative about multiculturalism

The artist, musician and rapper comments on her latest song, Borders, and its accompanying video, an ode to refugees.

    Both being a refugee and accepting asylum seekers can foster creativity and must be celebrated, the British musician and artist M.I.A. told Al Jazeera.

    "I think integration is a positive thing," she said in an interview in London. "I think integration can be positive and I'm a product of that.

    "It has a valuable contribution to culture. Creativity especially is thrived out of something like that."

    The artist was a refugee from Sri Lanka to Britain in the late 1980s. Her family was among the Tamil minority and political strife due to the civil war saw her mother apply for refugee status in Britain.

    Her father, Arul Pragasam, is a Tamil activist and former revolutionary from Jaffna who had a part in forming the Revolutionary Organisation of Students group.

    Commenting on her recent song Borders, with an accompanying video that depicts scenes from the refugee crisis from boatfuls of people traversing the seas to crowds held in detention centres, the singer said: "The reaction has been extreme as always, with most of my work.

    "It has weeded out a lot of hate with neo-Nazi groups and people thinking that it's causing white genocide."

    The video has also courted controversy on other fronts.

    M.I.A. has been accused in a letter of damaging the reputation of a sports club, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) football club.

    In one scene, the singer wears a PSG football shirt with the logo of one of its sponsors, Emirates Airline, doctored to read Fly Pirates instead of Fly Emirates.

    On Monday, she published the letter which called for compensation, via Twitter.

    The musician did not comment on the spat to Al Jazeera, instead focusing on her motive in making the song and video.

    "I felt that as a refugee, I wasn't really in a position to turn around to these people and say don't come because, you know, coming to England and being part of multicultural Britain and being able to give back ... I've been a poster child for it, I guess," said the 40-year-old.

    "I have to be part of something that helps find a solution where multiculturalism and integration work, rather than being a problem."

    She has released five albums and worked with artists including Jay-Z and Madonna. The first was an unofficial release, a mixtape named Piracy Funds Terrorism.

    "I've always championed the concept of multiculturalism and how coming from England actually helped facilitate ... me being able to come out and make music and be part of the music industry in the West. That's only positive. I can't find anything negative about multiculturalism," she said.

    With reporting by Anealla Safdar: @anealla

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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