June 24, 2018 / 10:37 AM

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M.I.A. Reacts to Paris Saint-Germain Threats to Censor Her ‘Borders’ Video



Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) recently requested that M.I.A.'s politically-charged "Borders" video--in which she takes on the issue of the European refugee crisis--be taken offline. The UK artist has since taken to Twitter to react to the professional soccer club's threats to censor the video.

The "Borders" video, which dropped back in November, depicts M.I.A. alongside masses of asylum-seekers scaling barbed wire fences, hopping overcrowded boats and wading across bordering seas. In one scene, the UK artist is wearing a modified version of PSG's jersey with with the team's sponsor Fly Emirates' logo adjusted to read "Fly Pirates."

Earlier this week, the British-Sri Lankan singer-songwriter tweeted a facsimile of a letter sent to her label, Universal Music, by Jean Claude Blanc, PSG's deputy CEO, last month requesting the removal of all imagery featuring the modified shirt from the video and all other media broadcast by the artist, as well as compensation for "the harm we have suffered." 

"We had the unpleasant surprise to find that the singer, in this video clip, appears twice wearing the official jersey of our team," wrote PSG's lawyers. "More than being surprised, we simply do not understand why we are associated, through our logo and the official jersey of our team's players, to such denunciation."

In the letter the soccer club's representatives complain that the use of their brand's imagery "in a videoclip denouncing the treatment of refugees is a source of discredit for our club and distorts its public communications policy."

The letter cites the team's popularity and various accolades (they've fared quite well in the French league but actually have never won the European Cup) before claiming they donated €1 million (about $1.1 million) to French charities Secours Populaire and the UNHCR in the wake of the European refugee crisis, Pitchfork reports.

M.I.A. spoke with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman about the controversy, explaining "Obviously I don't want to talk about fashion, but this is a fashion issue. You know, it's a T-shirt. And the bigger picture and the bigger message in the video is completely ignored. It's gone over their head."

Regarding the shirt and any claims that her decision to wear it is offensive or inauthentic, the artist asserts in her conversation with Goodman that sportswear has "just become the national, international, the global, universal uniform for everybody." She adds that soccer jerseys and tracksuits has become the "uniform" in migrant communities seeking asylum as well as in Palestine, throughout the Third World, among the middle-class, in war-torn countries, in New York City and London--everywhere.

In another tweet the artist adds that because the "Borders" video came out the day of the Paris memorial for victims of October's terrorist attacks she also felt that wearing a t-shirt with an Eiffel Tower on it demonstrated her support.

As of now the video is still up on Apple Music and in pinned posts on the artist's Twitter.

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