Just minutes after officially presenting his credentials to Dutch King Willem-Alexander, newly installed U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Hoekstra was bombarded on Wednesday with questions from local press about wildly offensive comments he’d made in 2015 in which he’d insisted that the “Islamic movement” in Europe had lead to “chaos in the Netherlands.”
“There are cars being burned,” Hoekstra said at the time. “There are politicians that are being burned. And yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.”
Both assertions are, as you might have guessed, totally bogus.
When asked by Dutch reporters to address his comments at Wednesday’s press conference, Hoekstra—a former Republican congressman from Michigan—stood tight-lipped, while the Dutch media grew more and more frustrated.
“Can you mention any examples of Dutch politicians who [were] burned recently?” one reporter demanded.
“This is the Netherlands,” another added. “You have to answer questions.”
After an aide attempted to close the press conference down, by telling the assembled reporters “if you don’t have any further questions...” she was interrupted by one journalist insisting “we do!”
Hoekstra said, “I won’t comment on the matter anymore.”
This is hardly the first time Hoekstra’s comments have been a controversy in the Netherlands. In late 2017, the Dutch news agency Nieuwsuur asked him about the comments, which he vehemently denied. They then showed him footage of his remarks, prompting him to immediately deny the denial he’d made just moments before.