US ambassador denies saying Netherlands has no-go areas - before journalist plays clip of him saying it

'We would call that fake news,' says Pete Hoekstra when challenged over comments he made on camera about Islam

Rachel Roberts
Saturday 23 December 2017 01:19
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Dutch TV snare US politician Pete Hoekstra over Netherlands comments

The new American ambassador to the Netherlands denied saying there are “no go areas” in the country because of radical Islamists, only for a Dutch journalist to produce a clip of him making the comments.

In an interview, Dutch TV correspondent Wouter Zwart challenged Pete Hoekstra over comments he had made on Islam.

“You mentioned in a debate that there are no-go zones in the Netherlands and that cars and politicians are being set on fire,” he said.

“I didn’t say that. That is actually an incorrect statement. We would call it ‘fake news’. I never said that,” Mr Hoekstra replied.

The journalist then appears to show the ambassador a clip of him saying the very comments he had denied making.

“The Islamic movement has now gotten to a point where they have put Europe into chaos. Chaos in the Netherlands – there are cars being burned, there are politicians being burned, and yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands,” the ambassador said in the clip.

Mr Hoekstra, a Republican and former Michigan congressman nominated by Mr Trump in July and sworn in last month, then denied his denial.

“You called it fake news,” the journalist - working for the current affairs programme Nieuwsuur - challenged him.

“I didn’t call that fake news. I didn’t use the words today,” Mr Hoekstra insisted.

“No?” Mr Zwart asked.

“No,” Mr Hoekstra replied. “I don’t think I did …” he added.

The ambassador made his comments on Islamist extremism at a 2015 conference sponsored by the David Horowitz Freedom Centre, a think tank which has hosted Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders.

Mr Trump’s nomination of Mr Hoekstra in the summer was controversial in the Dutch press because of his ultra-conservative record on issues including gay rights and immigration.

Mr Hoekstra, who was born in the Netherlands but whose family emigrated to Michigan when he was a toddler, has previously blamed a “secret jihad” for causing chaos in the Netherlands.

After Mr Trump announced his appointment, the Dutch newspaper de Volkstrank said in an editorial that the President had “put a Dutchman in the Netherlands – but it is a Dutchman from the Netherlands of the ‘50s".

Mr Hoekstra’s conservative views are at odds with the liberal political leanings of the majority of Dutch people. He opposes same-sex marriage and equal rights and has repeatedly voted to restrict abortion rights.

He also supports capital punishment and has repeatedly said he believes refugees pose a serious security threat as they settle in Europe.

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