Murder in Amsterdam

by Ian Buruma
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How do the notions of identity, community, and interests intersect and compete with one another in the novel? european enlightenment, islamic fundamentalism,

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In Murder in Amsterdam, there are two basic identities; one is held by those who regard themselves as “enlightened” in terms of the European enlightenment, while the other adheres to religious and cultural fundamentalism. What is interesting is that such fundamentalism does not only display itself in terms of Islam and Judaism, but also in the traditional white Dutch culture.

The author describes the traditional Dutch Calvinism as holding “moral principles too rigidly.” This is precisely the type of rigidity that the Muslim murderer of Theo van Gogh is accused of. Yet, the enlightenment exists as a response to the rigidity of the Dutch religious fundamentalism. Indeed, a type of uncomfortable interaction can be identified between extremism in terms of religion and the same phenomenon in terms of the enlightenment.

In this way, certain parallels can be drawn between the apparent opposites of fundamentalism and the enlightenment. They both suffer from a type of extremism that makes it impossible for them to tolerate each other.


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