Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Dutch reporters confront Hoekstra on Islam comments

Dutch reporters confront Hoekstra on Islam comments

President Donald Trump's ambassador to the Netherlands clashed with journalists at a press conference on his first official day in the job after he was quizzed over comments he had made about the "Islamic movement" creating "chaos" in Europe.

Reporters repeatedly asked Pete Hoekstra to offer proof of his claim that politicians and cars have been burned and that there are "no-go zones" in the Netherlands.

Hoekstra, who was born in Groningen and moved to the U.S. at the age of two, is a staunch conservative who opposes gay marriage and abortion and is pro the death penalty.

With the help of an aide, he tried to move onto another topic, but other journalists continued to ask similar questions, such as for examples of a Dutch politician who had been burned in recent years.

"This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions", another declared. "Chaos in the Netherlands".

Sherry Keneson-Hall, an embassy counselor who was helping run the news conference, pushed back, asserting that Hoekstra was answering the questions.

"I'm not revisiting the issue", Hoekstra said Wednesday.

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There are no instances in modern Dutch history of politicians being set alight, and no areas of the country considered no-go zones.

"The ambassador made mistakes in 2015, made comments that should not have been made".

He takes up the post as USA envoy left vacant for two years, and as immigration is set to again be a hot-button issue in the Dutch local elections due on March 21. Asked by journalists about the controversy, Hoekstra declined to comment on them directly, saying instead: 'This is about the views and the policies of the United States of America, as directed by this administration'. Hoekstra last month denied making the comments from 2015.

You may remember Hoekstra from his viral humiliation in December, when he was caught on camera lying about racist and unfounded statements about the threat of radical Islam.

During a debate in 2015 Hoekstra talked about the "Islamist movement" causing havoc across Europe. "I didn't call that fake news", he said.

He later apologized, saying in a tweet on December 23: "I made certain remarks in 2015 and regret the exchange during the Nieuwsuur interview".

A former representative for MI for 18 years in the US Congress, Hoekstra was born in the northern Dutch city of Groningen before his parents emigrated when he was just three. He said Hoekstra also was expected to visit various Dutch communities over the weekend, including Muslim communities.

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