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MADONNA

Madonna drops swastika after Le Pen row

Madonna removed the use of a swastika in her show in Nice in southern France on Tuesday following a row with far-right leader Marine Le Pen, and instead used the gig to call for the release of jailed Russian punk band Pussy Riot.

Madonna drops swastika after Le Pen row
Screenshot: Madonna.com

Madonna dropped from her last concert in Europe Tuesday a swastika that outraged France's right-wing party but again demanded the freedom of jailed Russian girl punk band Pussy Riot.

The video that accompanied the pop icon's performance in Nice of "Nobody Knows Me" still showed National Front leader Marine Le Pen, but a question mark replaced a swastika that had previously flashed on the politician's forehead.

The appearance of the Nazi symbol at Madonna's Paris performance last month enraged the party, which launched legal action against the 54-year-old singer and threatened to return to the courts should she use it again.

A local party supporter, Gael Nofri, welcomed Madonna's decision.

"As far as I know, Madonna has never changed a video clip. This is proof that our arguments were valid. This is excellent news," he said.

The pop diva used the last gig of a controversy-hit Europe tour to reiterate solidarity with three punk rockers jailed by Russian courts this month over a stunt in a Moscow cathedral criticising President Vladimir Putin.

"Free Pussy Riot!" Madonna shouted from the stage to a packed stadium in the southern French city.

At a concert in Moscow two weeks ago, Madonna donned a balaclava in solidarity with the protest punk band, angering Russian authorities.

The punk band wore knitted balaclavas when they performed a "punk prayer" for the ouster of the veteran strongman in the church in February.

Madonna drew more criticism in Russia when she called for "love and appreciation for the gay community" at a concert in St Petersburg, which had just banned "homosexual propaganda".

"I've seen some very scary things," the star told the Nice crowd, slamming "intolerance" and calling for the respect of "human dignity".

"The real deal is freedom and not just for Pussy Riot," she said, adding later: "Every human being deserves to be treated equally."

"We have to be freedom fighters."

The three Pussy Riot members have been jailed for two years for hooliganism, a sentence that has drawn wide criticism.

The Nice performance was Madonna's last in the Europe leg of a world tour that covers 30 countries, ending in Australia early next year.

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MADONNA

U-Turn: Le Pen says yes to drink with Madonna

France's National Front leader Marine Le Pen has changed her mind and accepted an offer from US pop icon Madonna to "sit down and have a drink". The pair famously fell out when one of Madonna's videos featured an image of Le Pen complete with a swastika on her forehead

U-Turn: Le Pen says yes to drink with Madonna
Marine Le Pen and Madonna may be meeting for a 'demi' soon. Photo: AFP
Madonna has always said you should "Express Yourself" and that's exactly what the 56-year-old singer has been doing while in France this week. 
 
She first hit the French newspapers last week after comparing France and Europe to Nazi Germany – leaving some to question her authority on the matter considering she was born in the US in 1958. 
 
On Monday, she made headlines in France again after inviting the leader of the National Front for a meeting over a 'demi' bière or two.
 
"I think I would like to sit down and have a drink with Marine Le Pen," Madonna said on the Grand Journal TV programme. "I want to understand where she's coming from."
 
It certainly sounded like a prayer for the Material Girl – and that prayer was answered on Tuesday afternoon.
 
After initially telling RTL radio that she wouldn't be meeting the diva, Le Pen did an about turn later in the day.
 
"I accept Madonna's invitation with pleasure," she told the AFP news agency.
 
"I appreciate people who make overtures in good faith."
 
The relationship between the two women has a rocky foundation. 
 
In 2012, the American kicked off her world tour with a show featuring a video montage of Le Pen with a swastika on her forehead. The footage was followed by another photomontage of Hitler and Le Pen. 
 
The French political party threatened legal action over what they called an "odious comparison", and Madonna cut the montage from her show.
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