Peter Hoekstra, the new USA ambassador to the Netherlands, held his first news conference with Dutch media on January 10, facing questions over his unsubstantiated 2015 claim about the chaos the "Islamic movement" had brought to the country.
He told reporters that Ambassador Pete Hoekstra had apologized for the 2015 remarks in a statement on Twitter in December and also said he regretted telling a Dutch television reporter he never made the comments.
Hoekstra, a former Republican congressman from MI, was born in the northern Dutch city of Groningen before his family emigrated to the United States.
"If you're truly an honest and wise man, could you please take back the remark about burned politicians or name the politician that was burned in the Netherlands?" the reporter asked.
"This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions", one reporter cried out. One asked Hoekstra if he would be visiting "our no-go areas".
"I've expressed my regrets and look forward to moving on", ambassador Peter Hoekstra said only hours after presenting his credentials to King Willem-Alexander, adding he would not be "revisiting the issue".
On Thursday, the State Department said the U.S. administration does not stand by these allegations, nor does it believe as Hoekstra apparently does in Muslim controlled "no-go zones".
"There are cars being burned. There are politicians that are being burned", Hoekstra said at the time. A silence followed but was broken when Hoekstra replied "thank you". "That is actually an incorrect statement", he told reporter Wouter Zwart.
The reporters wanted to know whether Hoekstra still stood behind an inflammatory and unsubstantiated claim he made in 2015 about Islamists turning the Netherlands into some kind of hellscape.
First asked about his comments by a Dutch reporter in December, Hoekstra denied making the statements, dismissing them as fake news. Well, yesterday was "Hokum" Hoekstra's first day on the job, and his interview with the Dutch press didn't go so well.
Nevertheless, Hoekstra has "made unsubstantiated claims about the nature of Muslim communities in Europe and pushed a hardline view of Islam" as recently as a year ago, according to a CNN KFile review. But he did not clarify whether the apology was meant to include the no-go zone comments when asked on Wednesday.
He takes up the post as USA envoy left vacant for two years, and as immigration is set to again be a hot-button issue in the Dutch local elections due on March 21.
Footage of Wednesday's news conference shows Hoekstra taking questions from journalists who asked several times if Hoekstra was wrong about cars and politicians being burned.