New U.S. Ambassador won’t roll back false claim that Dutch politicians were set on fire

Pete Hoekstra
Pete Hoekstra. U.S. Congress / Wikimedia Commons

The new American ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Hoekstra, refused to comment at his inaugural press conference in Den Haag about his past allegations claiming politicians were set on fire in the Netherlands. During a press conference right after the ambassador handed over his credential to Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Hoekstra found himself dodging several question regarding his previous statements. "I won't comment on the matter anymore", he announced.

He said that now that he is a representative of the American administration, his personal opinions or comments are no longer what matters.

During a debate in 2015 Hoekstra talked about the "Islamist movement" causing havoc across Europe. "Chaos in the Netherlands. There are cars being burned. There are politicians that are being burned... and yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands."

When  last December, the ambassador denied ever making them. "That is actually an incorrect statement, we would call it 'fake news'", Hoekstra said. "I never said that".

The broadcaster then played a video clip of Hoekstra making these statements. After some more discussion, Hoekstra then denied calling the statements fake news. "I didn't call that fake news", he said.

Hoekstra eventually apologized to Nieuwsuur on Twitter after headlines about the story spread around the world. Dutch King Willem-Alexander  about the dangers of spreading lies and propaganda shortly after the Hoekstra controversy. 

During Wednesday's press conference, when asked by AD if after the commotion he had considered withdrawing as a contender for the embassy position, he replied, "The president chose me because he considers me the right men for the job. The senate has confirmed my appointment. One interview has no impact on that."

Hoekstra is known for being a particularly conservative Republican politician who is against gay marriage, opposed to legalized abortion in all circumstances, and supports U.S. President Donald Trump's attempts to ban entry into the U.S. from citizens of several countries with large Muslim populations. The former Congressman from Michigan was involved in the foundation of the hard right populist Tea Party movement.

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