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 5Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 5 Summary: “Submission”

The fifth chapter of Murder in Amsterdam formally introduces Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Theo van Gogh’s partner on the controversial 2004 film Submission, to the reader. Considered an attractive and divisive woman, Ali was born in Somali and raised in West Africa, where she was subject to certain interpretations of Islamic law and cultural traditions, one specifically being the act of female circumcision. For much of her youth, Hirsi Ali lived without her father, who was a political opponent of the Somali warlord Mohammed Said Barre. In order to escape an arranged marriage, she applied for refugee status in Holland, changing “her name and her date of birth” (155). She also maintained that she “had arrived from Mogadishu” because the reason of not wanting to take part in an arrange marriage was “not an acceptable ground for asylum” (155). She became “a very bogus asylum seeker” (155), which would eventually lead to her status in the Netherlands being revoked following the murder of Theo van Gogh.

Hirsi Ali is a champion of women and a strong opponent of political Islam; however, even in her own community, she is a polarizing figure. She is hostile towards and carries a not-so-subtle disdain for immigrants, especially women who “just as the freedom of the West was in sight […] yearn[ed] for life in the cage [of Islam].