Murder in Amsterdam

by Ian Buruma

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What solution, if any, does Buruma propose in Murder in Amsterdam?

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The solution that Buruma proposes is that Dutch citizens must accept orthodox Muslims as fully paid-up, equal Europeans. Otherwise, there's every danger that mainstream non-revolutionary Muslims will lose all hope of feeling at home in the West. This in turn will lead to more young men becoming radicalized, like Mohammed Bouyeri, the murderer of Theo Van Gogh.

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In Murder in Amsterdam, Ian Buruma refrains from putting forward easy solutions that might help to bridge the enormous cultural gap between traditional white Europeans and Muslims, many of them foreign-born.

He completely rejects the simplistic "clash of civilizations" narrative that often arises in the aftermath of terrorist acts by radical Islamists. Instead of perpetuating a "them and us" mentality Buruma tries to find a way forward for orthodox Muslims to become more fully integrated into mainstream European society.

Though both Muslim and non-Muslim Europeans have their part to play in this process, Buruma emphasizes the necessity of white Europeans taking the initiative and making their Muslim fellow citizens feel more at home. Only in this way, he believes, is it possible to maintain a coherent multicultural society.

The danger, as he sees it, is that if orthodox Muslims aren't made to feel welcome and aren't accepted into the mainstream, then too many of them, especially young men, will follow the example of Theo van Gogh's murderer, Mohammed Bouyeri, and become involved in radical Islamism.

The point that Buruma's making here is that so long as Muslims feel uncomfortably caught between two cultures they are much more likely to seek comfort in the consoling ideology of Islamic fundamentalism.

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