What is the nature and outcome of the debate between fundamentalism and the enlightenment in Buruma's novel?  

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cathibee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The fundamentalist and enlightenment values addressed in the novel Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma are in permanent conflict with each other.  The central focus of the novel is the murder of enlightenment representative Theo van Gogh by a fundamentalist representative in the form of the son of Moroccan immigrants, who is also a Muslim by faith.

The conflict of which the murder is a culmination is based within the irreconcilable differences between the apparent irreverence of the enlightenment towards any fundamentalist claims to faith. Theo van Gogh did not take himself, or anybody else, very seriously, and this was the main reason for his murder.

In this light, one might surmise that both the enlightenment and fundamentalist positions have flaws in terms of failing to make concessions for the position of the other.  Indeed, the positions are similar in their stubborn denial of the other to exist. This denial is the main cause for the inability of the two positions to reconcile or to tolerate.

This denial is also the fundamental reason for the murder.