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Last Updated: Friday, 22 September 2006, 08:35 GMT 09:35 UK
Madonna defends gig 'crucifixion'
Madonna on stage in London
Madonna's tour is the highest earning show by a female artist
Madonna has again defended staging a mock crucifixion during her world tour.

Religious groups have complained about the cross scene and NBC is still deciding whether to include it in a November broadcast of the tour.

"It is no different than a person wearing a cross. My performance is neither anti-Christian, sacrilegious or blasphemous," she said in a statement.

"It is my plea to the audience to encourage mankind to help one another," the 48-year-old added.

"I believe in my heart that if Jesus were alive today he would be doing the same thing," she continued.

The crucifix segment shows the singer performing her song Live to Tell suspended from a giant cross wearing a crown of thorns.

Madonna performs in Russia
Madonna's Moscow concert was her first show in Russia

Russian Orthodox and Catholic leaders have called it blasphemous.

Russian police detained 10 supporters of Orthodox organisations outside her Moscow concert earlier this month for holding an unauthorised picket.

And Dutch prosecutors said a priest had confessed to making a hoax bomb threat while unsuccessfully trying to stop Madonna's concerts in Amsterdam.

The pop star has defended the imagery, saying it forms part of an appeal to her audience to donate to Aids charities.

Her world Confessions tour ended on Thursday in Japan and has become the highest-earning show by a female artist, according to US magazine Billboard.

Figures are yet to be finalised, but tour manager Arthur Fogel claims 1.2 million people attended 60 shows, making $193.7m (102.3m).

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