US envoy reportedly 'dismayed' over his past comments on Muslims, violence in Netherlands

US ambassador's 'fake news' claim backfires
US ambassador's 'fake news' claim backfires

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US ambassador's 'fake news' claim backfires 01:38

(CNN)President Donald Trump's new US ambassador to Netherlands has walked back his controversial 2015 comments about Muslims and violence in the northern European country.

Three years ago, Peter Hoekstra blamed the"Islamist movement" for "chaos" in the country, claimed there were no-go zones and asserted that cars and politicians were being burned.
"Looking back, I'm dismayed that I said it. There are of course situations in European countries that resemble that, but that has never been the case in the Netherlands. It was an incorrect statement. It was just wrong," Hoekstra said in an interview Friday with the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
Hoekstra said he "mixed up" countries, though he didn't specify which ones. He had previously denied making the comments, which are on camera, in an interview with a Dutch journalist on Capitol Hill in December, calling it fake news.
    Referring to that exchange, Hoekstra told the De Telegraaf: "It was not the case that I was shown at that moment that clip from 2015. I do not know what I was referring to when I was talking about fake news."
    Hoekstra called his denial in that interview of having spoken about "chaos" in the Netherlands a "miscommunication."
    "That politicians are being burned, that was an inaccurate statement," he said. "And the no-go zones, that could have been an exaggeration of what is taking place here."
    A no-go zone is a reference to Muslim-controlled neighborhoods in Europe where sovereign nations allegedly cede authority to Muslim immigrants.
    Asked by the newspaper if it was normal to be so "frivolous" with facts, Hoekstra said: "I formulated it incorrectly. If someone came to me the next day and indicated my mistake, then I would have said: You are right, thank you."
    Hoekstra denied he put his ambassadorship in jeopardy with his comments. The envoy is a former 18-year Republican congressman from Michigan who served for several years as chair of the House Intelligence Committee.