After some back and forth over recent months, M.I.A. will no longer be playing her Afropunk London headlining slot, the festival announced on Friday (July 15).
In a statement, the M.I.A. organizers said, “we’re excited and honored to do our first AFROPUNK Festival in London and desire to do it right. After discussing the situation with the artist and the community, a decision was agreed upon by all involved that M.I.A will no longer headline AFROPUNK London.”
The issue dates back to April when the artist tweeted a contentious statements some believed to be criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement. She asked, “Is Beyoncé or Kendrick Lamar going to say Muslim Lives Issue? Or Syrian Lives Matter? Or this child in Pakistan matters?” And, “It Is interesting that in America the issue you’re allowed to talk about is Black Lives Matter.”
M.I.A. later clarified that her comments, saying, “I am not Muslim. My question was, on American platforms what do they allow you to stand up for in 2016?”
First, it seemed M.I.A. was going to cancel her own headlining performance at the inaugural Afropunk London festival due to the backlash, with some threatening to boycott if M.I.A. was not removed from the bill. She tweeted, “Sorry I’m not doing Afropunk. Ha there is no lane for 65mil refugees who are targeted by extremist groups!” But then Afropunk defended M.I.A. and said she’d still be performing.
The festival will be finding a suitable replacement, who’ll be declared July 19 with a second wave of artists and has determined to alter its path.