President Trump’s new ambassador to the Netherlands was put on the hot seat by Dutch reporters after he refused to address false statements he’d made about their country being overrun by Islamic extremists.
“There are cars being burned, there are politicians that are being burned,” Peter Hoekstra had said at a conference organized by a conservative group. “And yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.”
The reporters, at Hoekstra’s first news conference at his residence in The Hague this week, repeatedly asked to address the comments, which have been widely mocked in Dutch media as untrue.
“Everybody there had one question: That crazy statement you made, are you going to withdraw it?” Roel Geeraedts, a political reporter at Dutch television station RTL Nieuws, told the Washington Post.
“We were not getting answers, so we all kept asking it.”
Today Dutch press welcomed @petehoekstra as new ambassador to the Netherlands. In 2015 Hoekstra said Dutch"politicians are being burned" (not true). The only one who did get burned today is… Hoekstra himself. By refusing to answer our questions. pic.twitter.com/Dv2aalbhDP
— Roel Geeraedts (@RGjournalist) January 10, 2018
During the event, Geeraedts asked, “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?”
An “uncomfortable silence” ensued, the paper said.
“Thank you,” Hoekstra said, before trying to call on someone else.
“Excuse me, I asked you a question,” Geeraedts persisted.
Another journalist jumped in.
“Mr. Ambassador, can you mention any example of a Dutch politician who was burned in recent years?” the reporter asked.
Hoekstra stared awkwardly around the room but did not reply.
“This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions,” another reporter said.
Reporters had asked the question at least five times and were left flabbergasted by the ambassador’s lack of a response.
“We were all astonished that he didn’t want to take back the comment. It was simply untrue, so why not take it back?” said Geeraedts. “It was awkward, to be honest.”