The newly-appointed U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, has finally admitted that he was wrong to say that there were “no-go” zones in the country where Muslim youths were burning politicians and cars.
Hoekstra, a former Republican congressman from Michigan, told a conservative group in 2015 that the “Islamic movement” had plunged Europe into chaos and that cars and politicians were being set on fire. “Yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands,” he said.
When interviewed last month at the U.S. Capitol by the Dutch news program Nieuwsuur, Hoekstra completely denied making the remarks, calling it “fake news” — despite his entire speech being captured on video. But the controversy did not die down. When Hoekstra held his first press conference at the Netherlands he was greeted by question after question on his fake claims about “no-go zones” in the country.
“Everybody there had one question: That crazy statement you made, are you going to withdraw it,” Dutch political reporter Roel Geeraedts told the Washington Post. “We were not getting answers so we all kept asking it.” The remarkable back-and-forth was captured on video.
Today Dutch press welcomed @petehoekstra as new ambassador to the Netherlands. In 2015 Hoekstra said Dutch"politicians are being burned" (not true). The only one who did get burned today is… Hoekstra himself. By refusing to answer our questions. pic.twitter.com/Dv2aalbhDP
— Roel Geeraedts (@RGjournalist) January 10, 2018
On Friday, however, Hoekstra finally admitted defeat, telling the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that he had made the remarks, that he was “shocked” by them and that they were factually incorrect.
“That was a wrong statement. That was just wrong. [It was] clearly an inaccurate statement,” Hoekstra said. “That one shocked me personally… because while you know there have been other issues in other countries in Europe, you know that has never been the circumstances here.”
The State Department said on Thursday that it did not agree with Hoekstra’s incendiary remarks.
“The ambassador made mistakes in 2015, made comments that should not have been made. He recognizes that,” Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein said in a briefing.”We have made clear to the ambassador that he must move to get this behind him.”
The idea of European countries having “no-go zones” in their major urban areas is a common conspiracy theory of the far-right, who believe that there are neighborhoods within cities like London, Paris and Brussels where Sharia Law is enforced and the government has no authority. These claims have repeatedly been found to have little basis in fact.