Pop icon Madonna has stepped forward to silence critics attacking her for posting up pictures of late activists Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Madonna posted up a Facebook response to the heat thrown her way this week.

Following an online backlash — where some longtime fans swore they were done with — Madonna took to her Facebook to defend the pics … saying, “This is neither a crime or an insult or racist.” She adds, “I’m saying they are Rebel Hearts too.” (TMZ)

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The music veteran addressed the backlash she had received heading into the weekend.

In a statement released late Friday night, Madonna said she was not comparing herself to them but acknowledging that they were rebels. She also said the images were fan-generated and defended herself against claims of racism, adding she also posted other famous faces who were not black. (The Guardian)

Earlier in the week, Madonna appeared to compare herself to the late icons with her posts.

In a series of Photoshopped Instagrams, Madonna seemingly compares herself to Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Bob Marley. More specifically, she has compared her “#rebelheart” to theirs by transposing her album artwork – which features her face crossed with black cording of some kind – onto their faces. (People)

This #rebelheart had a dream!

A photo posted by Madonna (@madonna) on

This#rebelheart fought for freedom!

A photo posted by Madonna (@madonna) on

This#rebelheart sang about ONE LOVE!

Una foto publicada por Madonna (@madonna) el