The new US ambassador to the Netherlands has faced a chilly reception over comments he made claiming that jihadists had left the country with “no-go areas” and that extremists were setting politicians on fire.
Peter Hoekstra was recorded making the incendiary remarks at a 2015 conference hosted by a far right group at which he claimed that Islamists had left Europe “in chaos”.
“With the influx of the Islamic community, and yes there are no-go zones in the Netherlands,” he said.
“There are cars being burned, there are politicians that are being burned.”
When asked to account for his claims by a Dutch newspaper, Mr Hoekstra initially denied his words and said the quotes were “fake news” – despite the fact the recording was put online by the conference hosts.
He later issued an apology over the interview but was left facing tough question from journalists at his first press conference.
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Mr Hoekstra was pressed on whether his apology related to his attempt to deny his own words, or the original claims he had made.
A journalist asked: “Are politicians being burned in the Netherlands in the past? Is that something you believe? Yes or no?”
When the ambassador tried to deflect the questions, reporters made it clear that broad denials of ‘fake news’ would not wash with them.
“This is not how it works, guys”, Mr Hoekstra was told.
“This is the Netherlands. You have to answer questions.”