Madonna Urges Americans To Cherish Their Freedom

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August 29, 2012 | 2:21pm EST

Madonna kicked off the American leg of her world tour on Tuesday by urging her fellow citizens to appreciate their freedom following the controversial imprisonment of three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot.
The Material Girl has been vocal about her opposition to the two-year sentences recently handed down to Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich for hooliganism charges after the feminist rockers performed a protest song against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow church in February.
The plight of the Pussy Riot trio was still on Madonna’s mind on Tuesday as she launched her MDNA Tour in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and, after telling fans about the rockers’ imprisonment, she warned the audience not to take their right to speak freely for granted.
She told the crowd: “In my travels around the world the one thing I truly witnessed is we in America have freedom of speech, freedom of expression. I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that I’m in the city where the Declaration of Independence was signed. We are in the land of democracy.
“Never forget how lucky you are to live where you live and to have the freedom that you have… Don’t get fat and lazy and take that freedom for granted.”
Madonna’s speech was met with cheers from the audience, who had booed her earlier in the evening when she started the gig at the Wells Fargo Center more than an hour late.
Apologising to her devotees, she said, “We had many changes to make from Europe to America, and I wanted the show to be perfect for you because my fans deserve it and quite frankly I deserve it.”
Madonna has spent the past three months touring Europe.