- € 6,49
It was an emblematic crime: on a November day in Amsterdam, an angry young Muslim man shot and killed the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, iconic European provocateur, for making a movie with the anti-Islam politician Ayaan Hersi Ali. After shooting van Gogh, Mohammed Bouyeri calmly stood over the body and cut his throat with a curved machete. The murder horrified quiet, complacent Holland - a country that prides itself on being a bastion of tolerance - and sent shock waves around the world. In Murder in Amsterdam, Ian Buruma describes what he found when he returned to his native country to try and make sense of van Gogh's death. The result is Buruma's masterpiece: a brave and rigorous study of conflict in our time, with the intimacy and control of a true-crime page-turner.
Van Gogh, a provocative media personality in the Netherlands, was shot and stabbed on an Amsterdam street in November 2004 by a young radical, the son of Moroccan immigrants, who accused him of blasphemy against Islam. When Buruma (Bad Elements) returned to his homeland in an effort to make sense of the brutal murder, he quickly realized there was more to the story than a terrorist lashing out against Western culture. Exploiting the tensions between native-born Dutch and Muslim immigrants, van Gogh drew attention to himself with deliberately inflammatory political theater that escalated beyond control. Buruma refuses to blame the victim, though, giving equal weight to critics who insist Islam must adapt to European culture rather than the other way around, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Dutch politician who scripted van Gogh's final film, an avant-garde indictment of the religion's treatment of women. There is a strong sense of journalistic immediacy to Buruma's cultural inquiry, and if the result is a slim volume, that's because his dense, thoughtful prose doesn't waste a single word.