Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Pressed on False Claims About Muslims, US Ambassador Goes Silent

Pressed on False Claims About Muslims, US Ambassador Goes Silent

A new United States ambassador to the Netherlands has already landed in hot water at his first press conference when he refused to answer journalists' questions.

A businessman and 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. 'This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions, ' one reporter said.

The comments were captured on video, but Mr. Hoekstra denied ever having made them in an interview last month with Wouter Zwart, a reporter with the Dutch news program Nieuwsuur. Hoeskra again tried to avoid the question, responding: "Thank you". Pressed further by Dutch reporters, the USA ambassador simply refused to answer.

"Could you please take back the remark about burned politicians or name the politician that was burned in the Netherlands?" another said.

"I'm not revisiting the issue", Hoekstra replied.

At a Wednesday press conference marking Hoekstra's first official day as ambassador, reporters "repeatedly" asked Hoekstra to address those comments, as well as the December incident, the Associated Pressreported.

Pete Hoekstra started his first day as us ambassador to the Netherlands by remaining silent when asked about false claims he made in 2015 about Muslim violence in that European country. All they wanted to ask him about was the false statement about "no-go zones" and which politician had been burned by Muslim extremists.

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"Everybody there had one question: that insane statement you made, are you going to withdraw it?" said Roel Geeraedts, a political reporter at the Dutch television station RTL Nieuws in a phone interview about the event.

"There are cars being burned, there are politicians that are being burned", he had said at a conference hosted by a conservative group.

The reporters wanted to know whether Hoekstra still stood behind an inflammatory and unsubstantiated claim he made in 2015 about Islamists turning the Netherlands into some kind of hellscape. But Hoekstra refused to be drawn. "That is actually an incorrect statement, we would call it "fake news", Hoekstra said.

"Those comments were not the position of the State Department and you will never hear those words from this podium or in any form", he said. "I did not call it fake news".

There's a popular right-wing narrative about the alleged spread of violent, Islamist-controlled "no-go zones" in cities in Western Europe where even police are afraid to go.

Though in 2016, Hoekstra had apologised for his remark and said, "I made certain remarks in 2015 and regret the exchange during the Nieuwsuur interview. Please accept my apology", he said.

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