The new US ambassador to The Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, tendered a public apology on Saturday for comments he made in a 2015 interview about “no-go” zones in Muslim communities in Europe.
The 2015 remarks became the focus of a live interview Hoekstra gave to Dutch TV on its current affairs programme Nieuwsuur on Friday.
“I made certain remarks in 2015 and regret the exchange during the Nieuwsuur interview. Please accept my apology,” Hoekstra shared on Twitter.
He left television reporter Wouter Zwart stunned by first dismissing as “fake news” the comments he had made on Islamist threat in the European country and, within seconds, denying mentioning “fake news” after the channel ran a footage to prove he did make the comment.
The embarrassing ‘fake news’ fragment was widely shared on US social media.
When Zwart asked him about the “no-go zone” comments, Hoekstra said: “That is an incorrect statement. We would call it fake news, I never said that.”
Then Zwart challenged him by running the footage that showed Hoekstra talking about “chaos in the Netherlands” with “cars being burned,” “politicians being burned” in “no-go zones in the Netherlands”.
The reporter asked him whether he wants to withdraw the “fake news” remark he just made.
Hoekstra shot back: “I didn’t call that fake news, I didn’t use the words today. No, I don’t think I did.”
The ambassador had made the “no-go zones” comment during a discussion on ‘Muslim Migration into Europe: Eurabia Come True?’
‘No-go zone’ is a favourite subject for politicians, especially in the US, to attack European governments for their soft approach to Muslim migrants and refugees fleeing Syria and North Africa. ‘Fake news’ is a term frequently used by President Donald Trump to dismiss any report critical of his administration.
Hoekstra was born in The Netherlands but immigrated to the US as a child. He was sworn in new envoy to The Netherlands by US Vice President Mike Pence on December 11.