Teen pop star Justin Bieber is taking heat on social media after the Anne Frank House reported he visited the Amsterdam museum and wrote in the guest book he hoped the young Holocaust victim would have been a “belieber,” the popular term for his fans.
A post on Saturday on the Facebook page of the museum said Bieber had visited the previous night and stayed over an hour, along 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.
Annemarie Bekker, a spokeswoman for the Anne Frank House, said museum officials were “a bit overwhelmed” by the negative reaction to Bieber’s statement.
“He’s a 19-year-old boy taking the effort to come and see the museum, and we’d like to point that out, and I think it’s quite innocent what he put down,” Bekker said.
Regarding that last sentence in the guest book, a large share of the hundreds of commentators on the museum’s Facebook post reacted negatively to Bieber’s choice of words.
“Anne Frank a belieber? That is by far one of the most self-serving things I’ve ever read, like ever,” Facebook user Tania Saez Pinto wrote.
Media commentators also joined in the fray.
Scott Simon, host of U.S.-based National Public Radio, said on Twitter, “Anne would be wise enough to just laugh.”
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.
Readers around the world have read her diary, which was first published in 1947 and details the deprivations and personal triumphs she and her family experienced in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.
A representative for Bieber did not return calls or an email on Sunday regarding the controversy over his comment in the guest book.
Some commentators on social media sites commended Bieber for caring enough about Anne Frank’s story to visit the Amsterdam museum, which is built into the house where she and her family hid before their arrest.
And the museum itself in its post about the visit from Bieber, a Canadian-born sensation whose hit songs include “Baby” and “U Smile,” did not expressly criticize him and made mention of his Saturday night concert in Arnhem, the Netherlands.
Bieber is on tour in Europe.