Murder in Amsterdam

by Ian Buruma

Start Free Trial

Student Question

How do identity, community, and interests intersect and compete in Murder in Amsterdam?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial