42 pages 1 hour read

Ian Buruma

Murder in Amsterdam: Liberal Europe, Islam, and the Limits of Tolerance

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2006

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Chapter 2Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 2 Summary: “Thank You, Pim”

Chapter 2 of Murder in Amsterdam is devoted to the late Dutch author, professor, and politician Pim Fortuyn, who was assassinated by a radical animal rights activist named Volkert van der Graaf on May 6, 2002. Known for his outspoken and controversial views about immigration, Islam in the Netherlands, and multiculturalism, Fortuyn was referred to as the “divine baldy” by Theo van Gogh and a thorn in the side of the traditional, liberal regenten (39) that dominated much of Dutch politics during Fortuyn’s lifetime.

Buruma frames the rise of Fortuyn, “[a] Roman Catholic fantasizer, a gay man who talked openly of sexual adventures in bathhouses and ‘backrooms,’ a show-off with the gaudy style of a showbiz impresario” (46), against the change of a Dutch political landscape. Until the 1990s, Dutch politics were dominated by a liberal “virtuous elite […] discreetly wielding power, supposedly for the common good, and brooking no interference” (49).

In his way, Pim Fortuyn’s stance against Islam in the Netherlands was embedded firmly in the Enlightenment principles of Western Europe, and though his message may have been confrontational due to the fact that he did not partake in the liberal group-think that had so dominated Dutch politics before his arrival, his opposition to Islam stemmed from having no “desire to have to go through the emancipation of women and homosexuals all over again” (56-57).