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Murder in Amsterdam: A Blazing Fire (Essay Sample)


In analyzing the murder of Theo van Gogh, Ian Buruma draws on many of the themes we’ve discussed in our course, especially in the weeks focusing on the 20th century. The Enlightenment, national identities, European imperialism, the World Wars, the memory of the Holocaust, decolonization, the radical politics of the 1960s, mass migration – all these subjects come up in the book as Buruma tries to make sense of this incidence of violence and what it means for contemporary Europe. How did the various themes we’ve discussed in the course – especially in the third unit of the syllabus – shape the murder in Amsterdam and the public reactions to it? Basically, I am asking you to connect Ian Buruma’s book to the subject of our class.


Murder in Amsterdam: A Blazing Fire
Murder in Amsterdam is an account of the controversial death of Theo Van Gogh, a film director, actor, and critic. It has been regarded as a report, an essay, and a true to life story by The Guardian in one of their articles. In fact, Bedell (Bedell, Geraldine) reported that it created the starting point as to the study of where Islam now stands in the face of Europe. Thus, in this book, Buruma tried to exemplify the influence that the death of Van Gogh brought to the Europeans. He provided every detail that revealed his thoughts on Islamic culture in relation to the Dutch community. Moreover, he showed how the combination of these two failed Europe and its dream of providing a safer place for most of its inhabitants. But above all these issues raised by Buruma, in the end, he actually made a call for action. According to him, the issue was not about how the Holocaust may possibly repeat, how the Second World War is haunting today's politics, how the Enlightenment is happening again in the hearts of the young revolutionists, nor how the mass migration that happened before negatively made an impact to the Dutch culture. He said, “The question was how to stop future Mohammed Bouyeris from becoming violent enemies of the country in which they grew up—how to make those boys pissing on the seventeenth-century door feel that this is their home too.” (Buruma 121).
To give you a brief background, the book contemplated on how the mass immigration of the Muslim population greatly impacted the European culture, particularly the Dutch. By using Van Gogh as the main protagonist in the story, Buruma made a symbolism of death and murder by looking beyond what has been provided with respect to Van Gogh's death. What happened was that Van Gogh was assassinated by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim. The assassination was too much heinous that anyone who wishes to know the facts would eventually regret having to learn it all. Buruma described the death of Van Gogh in a very vivid manner that anyone who reads the book will surely be able to imagine how Bouyeri killed Van Gogh. However, according to Buruma (Buruma 10), the main target was not actually the filmmaker. It was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born politician who was initially a Muslim, but turned against her religion because she believed that Islam is not already being intended for what it purports to be. In Buruma's words, he described Hirsi Asli as, “a Muslim, or ex-Muslim, from Africa, telling Europeans that Islam was a serious threat.” In her attempt to let the Dutch people know that Muslims are the new Nazis, that the Jewish Holocaust shall happen again if in case Muslims rule over the world, she made a film with Van Gogh exhibiting how Muslim women are actually being treated differently like pigs and animals with no value at all. This enraged the Dutch-Muslim community; hence, a group of Dutch-Muslim individuals, to which Bouyeri belonged, attempted to assassinate both but

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