The new US Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Hoekstra has apologized for denying his anti-Islamic remarks in a 2015 interview, where he suggested that Holland was in chaos because of Muslims.
Speaking at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Restoration Weekend that year, the onetime lawmaker from Michigan referred to refugees as “invaders” and suggested that Muslim militants were burning cars and no-go zones across the Netherlands.
“There are cars being burned. There are politicians that are being burned ... and yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands,” Hoekstra said at the panel, which was titled “Muslim Migration Into Europe: Eurabia Come True?”
Earlier this month, when asked by a Dutch news program called “Nieuswsuur” to clarify his comments, Hoekstra denied the remarks altogether and dismissed them as “fake news.”
However, when the station confronted him by playing a video of him making the exact comments at the panel, Hoekstra backpedaled and denied referring to the question as fake news.
“I didn’t call that ‘fake news.’ I didn’t use the words today,” he told the program. “No, I don’t think I did.”
Please see my comments regarding recent interview. Thank you. Pete pic.twitter.com/gxQOcZ8Duk— Pete Hoekstra (@petehoekstra) December 23, 2017
On Saturday, however, the ambassador, who was appointed to the job on December 11, acknowledged that he had not been honest.
“I made certain remarks in 2015 and regret the exchange during the “Nieuwsuur” interview. Please accept my apology,” Hoekstra wrote in a twitter post.
“For the last 17 years I've been passionate about confronting the global threat of terrorism," Hoekstra said in a statement on Twitter. "This has been a long struggle. We still have much to learn."
This did not make a good first impression on the Dutch, with many users reminding him that the blunder was hard to reverse.
“Can we get a new ambassador please? This one seems to be broken. So much for ‘the best people’,” wrote one user.
“Why should anyone in the Netherlands believe anything you say from this point forward,” wrote another.
Hoekstra, 64, served as the US Representative for Michigan's 2nd congressional district from 1993 to 2011. He was born in the Netherlands and moved to the United States at age 3.
A member of the Republican Party, Hoekstra served as a national security adviser for US President Donald Trump during last year’s presidential election campaign.