By Olivia B. Waxman
January 3, 2015

Madonna has stirred up controversy on Instagram for posting altered images of Nobel Peace Prize laureates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, along with others, to promote her upcoming album Rebel Heart.

The photos depict the trailblazing leaders with the same kind of black ribbon that covers her face in the album art for Rebel Heart.

Various Instagram and Twitter users said the pictures of the civil rights icons were disrespectful. One user commented, “To lessen Mandela’s and Dr. King’s achievements as far as making their faces involuntarily a part of a marketing campaign for some irrelevant pop music is just a huge perception disorder,” PEOPLE reported.

The singer wrote on Instagram that these images were created by her fans to celebrate “freedom fighters”:

When I repost these images i am saying YES! These people are all Rebel Hearts in one way or another from Martin Luther King to Jesus to Nelson Mandela to John Lennon. YES! Lets celebrate them!

She pointed out that she had also shared images of Princess Diana and John Lennon.

Then in a Facebook post, she further clarified that she is not trying to compare herself to either revered figure:

I’m sorry
I’m not comparing my self to anyone

My fans aren’t racist either
If they put me in the same category as these other people
Thank you. I’m very flattered and I hope one day to live up to 1 100th of what those people accomplished.”

The album Rebel Heart is due out March 10, 2015.

Write to Olivia B. Waxman at


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