“Looking back, I am shocked I said that,” Hoekstra said in an interview published Friday in the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, according to The Washington Post. “It was a wrong statement. It was wrong.”
Hoekstra claimed at a 2015 anti-terrorism conference that Muslims were causing “chaos in the Netherlands,” burning cars and politicians and creating “no-go zones” in that country.
He told De Telegraaf that he couldn’t recall what his comments were based on.
“I mixed up countries. I was wrong. I can’t recall how that could happen. I know: I was wrong,” he said.
Hoekstra has been scorched by the Dutch over the comments, and his De Telegraaf interview appeared to be an attempt to make amends after a tough week.
During his first news conference on Wednesday, Dutch journalists refused to let Hoekstra off the hook and peppered the former Republican congressman from Michigan with questions asking if he still believed those widely debunked claims.
Hoekstra then doggedly refused to retract his past comments or provide concrete examples to back up his claims, The Washington Post reported. The Dutch journalists responded to his reluctance by piling on their questions.
“Are politicians being burned in the Netherlands in the past? Is that something you believe? Yes or no?” one reporter asked.
“Could you please take back the remark about burned politicians or name the politician that was burned in the Netherlands?” another asked.
“Why don’t you answer the question?” others chimed in, after Hoekstra attempted to move on.
At one point, a frustrated journalist declared, “This is the Netherlands. You have to answer questions.”
Roel Geeraedts, a reporter at the Dutch television station RTL Nieuws, tweeted a video of the tense news conference. “The only one who did get burned today is... Hoekstra himself. By refusing to answer our questions,” he wrote.
Source: The Huffington Post