AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A museum dedicated to Anne Frank defended Canadian pop star Justin Bieber on Monday for writing in its guest book that he hoped the young Holocaust victim would have been a “belieber”, the popular term for his fans.
Bieber, 19, came under fire on social media for his written comments after visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam over the weekend, accused of being “self-serving” and “tasteless”.
But the museum came to his defense on Monday, saying staff were delighted that Bieber visited the exhibition built into the house where Frank and her family hid during World War Two before their arrest.
“His comments were quite innocent,” said a museum spokeswoman. “He was here for more than hour and interested in Anne Frank’s life and that for us is the most important thing.”
A post on Saturday on the Facebook page of the museum said Bieber visited the previous night with a group of friends and guards as fans waited outside to “see a glimpse of him”.
“In our guestbook he wrote: ‘Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber,’” the museum said in the Facebook post.
A large share of thousands of commentators on the museum’s Facebook post reacted negatively to Bieber’s choice of words.
“Way to turn an inspiring moment into something about yourself,” wrote one.
Anne Frank, who died at age 15 at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945, is one of the most well-known and celebrated Jewish victims of the Holocaust due to her diary.
Her diary, first published in 1947, details the deprivations and personal triumphs she and her family experienced in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.
A representative for Bieber, who is on tour in Europe, declined to comment.
The singer, who has the largest following on Twitter globally, has hit the headlines in recent weeks for turning up late to concerts, abusing photographers, and abandoning a pet monkey at Munich Airport as he did not have the right papers.
Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, editing by Paul Casciato