U.S. President Donald Trump‘s pick for ambassador to the Netherlands has been left red-faced after he vehemently denied ever making comments about Islamist “no-go zones” in the Netherlands, calling it “fake news,” before struggling to explain a video clip showing him saying exactly that.
Pete Hoekstra, who takes up his position in January, was being interviewed for Dutch current affairs show Niewsuur when he was asked to explain his past remarks about cars and politicians being set on fire in the Netherlands and the sprouting up of Muslim no-go zones.
“I didn’t say that,” Hoekstra swiftly replied. “That is actually an incorrect statement. We would call it fake news. I never said that.”
The reporter then showed Hoekstra a video of him speaking at an event organized by the conservative David Horowitz Freedom Center in 2015.
“The Islamic movement has now gotten to a point where they have put Europe into chaos,” Hoekstra says in the clip.
“Chaos in the Netherlands, there are cars being burned, there are politicians that are being burned — and yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.”
After being shown the clip, Hoekstra was asked to explain his previous “fake news” comment.
“I didn’t call that fake news. I didn’t use the words today,” Hoekstra said. “I don’t think I did.”
The idea of no-go zones holds that there are lawless Islamist neighbourhoods in Europe where Sharia law is imposed, and non-Muslims aren’t permitted.
Earlier in the interview, Hoekstra discussed his religious beliefs, saying that they offered a very “enabling and progressive message,” before reiterating his staunch opposition to gay marriage and abortion.
Hoekstra, who was born in the Dutch city of Groningen, served as Trump’s campaign manager in Michigan, and previously served as chair of the House intelligence committee.