Madonna Apologizes for Posting 'Rebel' Images of Mandela, MLK: "I'm Not Comparing Myself"

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Madonna has responded to critics of her recent social media posts, saying that she is "not comparing" herself to anyone, but "admiring and acknowledging" them.

On Jan. 2, the diva drew attention after she shared altered photographs of Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Bob Marley through her Instagram account. The photos were tweaked -- by "fans," not Madonna, she says -- in order to appear similar to the cover of Madonna's upcoming album, Rebel Heart.

The Rebel Heart cover features a close-up photo of Madonna's face wrapped in black string (a Rebel Heart "ribbon," as Madonna calls it). The photos of King, Mandela and Marley got similar treatment (see below).

In a statement that was posted to her Facebook page and emailed to Billboard by her publicist, Madonna said:

"I'm sorry. I'm not comparing my self to anyone. I'm admiring and acknowledging there (sic) Rebel Hearts. This is niether (sic) a crime or an insult or racist! I also did it with Michael jaclson (sic) and frida khalo (sic) and marilyn monroe. Am I say I am them, NO.  I'm saying they are Rebel Hearts too. And I didn't do it, my fans did. And I just re-posted those photos. My fans aren't racist either. If they put me in the same category as those other people, Thank you. I'm very flattered and I hope one day to live up to 1 100th of what those people accomplished."

Madonna added in a separate note on Facebook and Instagram that "the world needs more people like" King and Mandela. She also thanked her fans for recreating her album cover using the images of so many "great" heroes, thus "celebrating" them as "great freedom fighters."

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