Michael Buckner/Getty
Andrea Billups
January 02, 2015 12:50 PM

Selena Gomez and her group of friends were careful to cover their heads when they paid a sightseeing visit to an Abu Dhabi mosque earlier this week.

But Gomez sparked controversy when she posted an Instagram photo showing her flashing her bare ankles in the mosque, which critics labeled as disrespectful.

That photo has since been deleted, but not before being widely circulated online.

The pop star, 22, however, has kept another Instagram photo of her visit, showing her and her crew smiling and mugging it up for the camera.

The snapshot has spurred comments from detractors, who decried it as being inappropriate.

“As tourists they should still respect the fact they are in a holy place,” one Instagram commenter wrote.

Other followers stepped up to defend the group: “Clearly, she’s a tourist & she isn’t purposely disrespecting the religion or the mosque.”

Gomez traveled to the United Arab Emirates to celebrate the new year along with pals Kendall Jenner and Cody Simpson, where they toured the Abu Dhabi’s famed Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque early in the week before spending New Year’s Eve in Dubai.

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