USA envoy erred in comments about Muslims in Netherlands: State Department

Jan 12, 2018, 03:20
USA envoy erred in comments about Muslims in Netherlands: State Department

Dutch journalists peppered Hoekstra, who became Trump's ambassador after serving 18 years as a Republican congressman from MI, with questions on unsubstantiated claims he made in 2015 about the chaos the "Islamic movement" had brought to the Netherlands.

At his first news conference at The Hague, Dutch reporters pressed Hoekstra about his 2015 comments that Muslims have sown chaos and rendered parts of the Netherlands "no-go zones" where cars and politicians are "being burned".

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.

On Wednesday, Hoekstra dug himself into an even deeper hole at a Dutch press conference marking the beginning of his ambassadorship, when reporters asked again for him to clarify: "Are politicians being burned in the Netherlands?"

"This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions", another reporter said.

"Cars being burned, there are politicians that are being burned..." But Hoekstra, squirming through his first news conference in The Hague, was merely the more visible of the Dutch media's two targets.

The ambassador repeated that he did not want to revisit the remarks and that he had expressed his regrets.

He has also suggested that former president Barrack Obama may have been aiding the rise of radical Islam on goal, the CNN report said. He has repeatedly asserted that Europe has "no-go zones".

Hoekstra told reporters he regretted the exchange with Dutch television denying the remarks but declined to comment further.

"Excuse me, I asked you a question", Geeraedts said.

"The ambassador made mistakes in 2015, made comments that should not have been made". It was awkward, to be honest'.

Hoekstra last month denied making the comments, telling a reporter with current affairs program Nieuwsuur they were "an incorrect statement. fake news". "He's been received well by the Dutch government, and we hope that he can be received well by the people of the Netherlands". "I didn't call that fake news", he said.

Video of the freakish exchange, juxtaposed with his "no-go zone" remarks, went viral, and the episode drew a slew of critical headlines in the United States and the Netherlands.

In contrast to the Dutch reporters at the briefing, the White House Press Corps has been criticized for agreeing to off-camera briefings for several weeks last summer and failing to call out White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and follow up when she refuses to answer questions or responds with lies about the administration.