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Bronfman, M.I.A. custody battle heats up

M.I.A. was recently banned from taking her son with, four-year-old Ikhyd, back to her birthplace of England. The musician was born in London and raised in Sri Lanka.

Jim Cooper/Associated Press

A family court in Brooklyn has ensured that Ikhyd Edgar Arular Bronfman, 4, won't go missing in action in what is turning into an intense custody battle between his two famous parents.

Sources in New York Thursday confirmed an earlier report that the boy's father, Benjamin Bronfman, had obtained an order preventing the youngster – his first name is pronounced I-kid – from being removed from Brooklyn where Mr. Bronfman, 30, and the boy's mother, controversial rap artist M.I.A., 37, have lived separately since splitting in February, 2012. That separation was announced right around the time of M.I.A.'s now famous "middle-finger malfunction" during the half-time show at the 46th Super Bowl.

The order, granted March 11, restricts both Mr. Bronfman and M.I.A. (real name: Mathangi Arulpragasam), to keeping their son in the borough indefinitely "until the court figures out a final solution." Mr. Bronfman sought the restraining order in Kings County Court after it was reported Ms. Arulpragasam was hoping to take their son to London where the Grammy-nominated artist was born in 1975 and lived prior to meeting Mr. Bronfman in New York in late 2007.

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The couple made headlines internationally in May, 2008, when they announced they were engaged. To many, it seemed an unlikely pairing – Mr. Bronfman, raised on New York's Upper West Side, is the son of billionaire Edgar Bronfman and his first wife, actress Sherry Brewer. He is the great-grandson of the late Samuel Bronfman, founder of the Seagram distillery empire that was headquartered in Montreal. Ms. Arulpragasam, daughter of a Sri Lankan-born Tamil activist, is famous for her support of the Tamil Tiger and Palestinian liberation movements, among others.

In 2009, she urged U.S. President Barack Obama to refuse his Nobel Peace Prize "like John Lennon sent back his [order of the British Empire]." Earlier she claimed she was "a bit beyond being an artist who says, 'Give peace a chance.' Part of me is like, 'Give war a chance.' "

However, Mr. Bronfman was hardly a stranger to Ms. Arulpragasam's worlds. In the mid-2000s, he played guitar in a band called the Exit and, in 2008, started a record company, Green Owl, described by Vanity Fair as "Earth's first green music label." Indeed, if Mr. Bronfman is known for anything beyond his association with his former paramour, it's as an environmental activist.

The duo generated another spate of headlines in February, 2009, when a very pregnant M.I.A., wearing a sheer dress, appeared at the Grammy Awards with Mr. Bronfman and later performed with fellow rappers Lil Wayne and Jay-Z on the song Swagga Like Us. She'd earlier thought that the Grammy date could induce labour and, sure enough, three days later she gave birth to her son. Eight months later, Mr. Bronfman told an interviewer he and M.I.A. had yet to pick an exact date for their nuptials "but we're working on it. … It will probably be pretty soon. In New York."

He also said being a parent "is the best thing in the world. … I think it makes you just – it turns you into a man, you know? It makes you real."

Two days after the restraining order went into effect, the rapper took to Twitter to accuse the Bronfman family of trying "to take my son away from me." Read another Tweet: "BEN … Just because you have money doesnt mean you have the right." And another: "Every child needs the MOTHER, I GREW UP WITHOUT A DAD. If I grew up without my mother I wouldnt be here."

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James More

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