January 14, 2018
The new US ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, has admitted making anti-Muslim comments in 2015, claiming that Muslims had created so-called “no-go” zones in the country and were burning politicians.
In an interview on Friday with the Dutch newspaper Telegraaf, Hoekstra, a former Republican congressman for Michigan, apologized for the comment he made over two years ago.
“That one shocked me personally … While you know there have been other issues in other countries in Europe, you know that has never been the circumstances here. That was a wrong statement. That was just wrong,” Hoekstra told the media outlet.
Speaking at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Restoration Weekend that year, Hoekstra referred to refugees as “invaders” and suggested that Muslim militants were burning cars and no-go zones across the Netherlands.
In a video clip that went viral in December, Hoekstra said the “Islamic movement is now gotten to a point where they have put Europe into chaos.”
“…There are politicians that are being burned,” he added.
In December, when asked by a Dutch news program called “Nieuswsuur” to clarify his comments, Hoekstra denied the remarks altogether and dismissed them as “fake news.”
The story that emerged coincides with US President Donald Trump’s latest comments about immigrants and his alleged derogatory remarks about certain nations, which he described as “shithole countries.”
Hoekstra, 64, served as the US Representative for Michigan’s 2nd congressional district from 1993 to 2011. He was born in the Netherlands and moved to the United States at age 3.
A member of the Republican Party, Hoekstra served as a national security adviser for US President Donald Trump during last year’s presidential election campaign.
Hoekstra also made additional statements beyond the 2015 conference, where he appeared to spread anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.
During a news conference in Washington, Undersecretary Steve Goldstein was asked about Hoekstra’s statements. Goldstein told reporters that Hoekstra had “made comments that should not have been made.”
“The ambassador made mistakes in 2015,” said Goldstein. “Those comments were not the position of the State Department, and you will never hear those words from this podium.”
The remarks, which are based on unsupported theory that is popular in right-wing European media, have been the subject of multiple inquiries by Dutch reporters.
Dutch reporters asked Hoekstra repeatedly Wednesday to provide evidence for them or retract the remarks during a tense first meeting with him.
During Wednesday’s exchange, which was captured on video, the ambassador fell silent as reporters continued to query him, drawing a slew of critical headlines in the Netherlands and coverage across the world.