Curators of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam have stepped up to defend Justin Bieber after he came under fire for writing a disrespectful message in the museum's guest book.
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On Friday, ahead of a show in the region, Bieber paid a visit to the memorial attraction located in the annex where the Jewish teenager and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II. Upon leaving, he made his mark by scribbling a note in the guest book.
The message, which was posted online by a staff member, reads, "Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a Belieber."
The comment sparked outrage among other tourists, with many pouring scorn on his message in subsequent notes in the visitors' book, and it prompted a frenzy of criticism on social networking websites.
However, museum bosses have now stepped in to back Bieber and thank him for visiting the house.
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Spokeswoman Annemarie Bekker says, "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."
Another representative, Maatje Mostart, tells the BBC, "He's 19. It's a crazy life he's living, he didn't mean bad (sic) ... and also it's nice that he made the effort, he didn't have to come."
British comedian Ricky Gervais was among the stars to mock the controversy in a post on his Twitter page, writing, "I agree with Justin Bieber. Anne Frank would've loved his stuff. It's perfect for being played really really quietly so no one can hear it."
Comedian Harry Shearer adds, "I visited the Anne Frank house over the weekend and wrote in the guest book: 'Disappointed that Justin Bieber isn't still here.'"
Anne Frank died at the age of 15 at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in 1945. She became one of the best-known Jewish victims of the Holocaust following the publication of her diary in 1947.