Dutch reporter catches Hoekstra peddling ‘fake news’

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

A Dutch journalist confronted former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, now the U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, about his false claim in 2015 that Muslims have made some parts of the Netherlands inaccessible, where cars and even politicians are “being burned.”

Questioned on camera by reporter Wouter Zwart, a correspondent for the news program Nieuwsuur, about the existence of “no-go zones,” Hoekstra denied having made the statements, calling it “fake news.”

“At one point, you mentioned in a debate that there are no-go zones in the Netherlands, and that cars and politicians are being set on fire,” Zwart says in a video of the interview.

Hoekstra responded: “I didn’t say that. That is actually an incorrect statement. Yeah, we would call it ‘fake news.’ I never said that.”

Zwart then said: “Is it fake news? Because that’s what you really said.”

Hoekstra again replied: “No, it’s not what I said.”

The video interview then cuts to footage of Hoekstra’s remarks a 2015 conference in Charleston, South Carolina, hosted by the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

Hoekstra, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, spoke on a panel there titled, “Muslim Migration into Europe: Eurabia come True?”

In a video of the event, Hoekstra contends that Muslim extremists are wreaking havoc in the Netherlands as part of a “stealth jihad.”

“The Islamic movement has now gotten to a point where they have put Europe into chaos. Chaos in the Netherlands. There are cars being burned. There are politicians that are being burned,” Hoekstra said at the time.

“And, yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.”

The term “no-go zone” is used by anti-Muslim activists and some conservative activists to suggest an area where non-Muslims are unwelcome. For example, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, has falsely claimed Dearborn, Michigan, is a such a “no-go zone.”

After showing Hoekstra the footage of his 2015 remarks, Zwart tried again for an explanation.

“You call it fake news. Obviously –” the reporter said.

Hoekstra interjected: “I didn’t call that fake news. I didn’t use the words today.”

“No?” Zwart said.

“I don’t think I did,” Hoekstra replied.

Hoekstra of Holland, Michigan, declined to comment when reached by The Detroit News.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations on Friday called for Hoekstra’s resignation.

“Someone whose word cannot be trusted, and who lies so shamelessly, can only harm our nation’s image and interests abroad,” said Nihad Awad, national executive director of CAIR, in a statement.

“Ambassador Hoekstra should resign and be replaced by someone who will better represent American values in a foreign setting.”

Hoekstra is no fan of CAIR, having called the Muslim civil rights organization a “front organization” for the Palistinian militant group Hamas at the same 2015 conference that he remarked on “no-go zones.”

Some Dutch citizens have reportedly raised concerns about Hoekstra’s 2015 comments at the David Horowitz Freedom Center conference.

David Horowitz, whose nonprofit center is based in California, is an conservative anti-Muslim activist who has contributed thousands to the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, whose platform calls for ending immigration to the Netherlands from Muslim countries and closing mosques in the country, according to The Intercept.

The U.S. Senate last month confirmed Hoekstra for the Dutch ambassadorship by a voice vote.

He retired from Congress in 2011 after 18 years and last year co-chaired President Donald Trump’s campaign in Michigan.

Hoekstra was born in the Netherlands, emigrated with his parents to the United States at age 3 and grew up in West Michigan.