US Ambassador to Netherlands Clashes with Dutch Reporters Over Remarks About Muslims

Pete Hoekstra

It did not go well.

On his first official day in the job, Pete Hoekstra was taken to task over controversial comments he made in 2015 in which he said that the "Islamic movement" was creating chaos in Europe and suggested that extremists were burning politicians and cars in the Netherlands.

He added: "Chaos in the Netherlands - there are cars being burned".

The US ambassador to the Netherlands is to meet Dutch Muslims after his arrival was clouded by his claim that the country is troubled by Islamist violence and no-go zones.

The comments have widely been described as inaccurate, and reflect certain conspiracies about sharia law that crop up in some circles of the far-right in the West. "And I'm not revisiting the issue", referring to a December 23 statement on Twitter.

But the reporters were not done with the line of questioning yet.

"Please, this is not how it works", another reporter said.

Geeraedts published a segment with video of the remarkable exchange on social media. "Yes or no", one asked.

Pete Hoekstra addresses the press at the embassy.

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"Are politicians being burned in the Netherlands in the past?"

An uncomfortable silence followed the question. "This is about the views and the policies of the United States of America, as directed by this administration", Hoekstra replied. "This is the Netherlands; you have to answer questions".

Another asked, "Would you please take back your remark about burned politicians, or name a politician that was burned in the Netherlands".

Again, silence, as Hoekstra stared around the room.

"This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions", one reporter cried out. Pressed further by Dutch reporters, the US ambassador simply refused to answer.

"The Ambassador made mistakes in 2015, made comments that should not have been made", Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Steve Goldstein told reporters. It was awkward, to be honest'.

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. Hoekstra had brazenly denied making those remarks - even though they were captured on videotape - in a one-on-one interview with a Dutch journalist in December. Moments later, he denied that he had called them fake news.

But a video of Hoekstra's appearance at a 2015 conference in Charleston, South Carolina, hosted by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is available online. But Hoekstra refused to be drawn.

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