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 7Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 7 Summary: “In Memoriam”

For the final chapter of Murder in Amsterdam, Buruma briefly touches on the fallout from the trial of Theo van Gogh, the controversies and roadblocks to establishing a monument and memorial to the slain filmmaker, and a funeral that friends of van Gogh claimed he would have “loathed” (230). Following this, Buruma departs from van Gogh to again try to make sense of the contradictory place that is modern day Amsterdam and all that it represents at the heart of Dutch culture. He admits that yes, perhaps Amsterdam “with its red-light district as its fetid symbol, does have something to answer for. Maybe these streets are typical of a society without modesty, morally unhinged” (234). But to Buruma, tolerance is a two-way street, and despite what Amsterdam might wish to claim, “Holland never had a truly metropolitan culture. Learning to live with large numbers of immigrants is ‘going to be a difficult and painful process’ and people will just ‘have to get used to it’” (239).

In the middle of the chapter, Buruma shifts his focus from the streets of Amsterdam to a lecture given by its mayor, Job Cohen, in 2002, a lecture in which he continually returned to the “basic question: how to make people feel at home in a modern, secular, liberal society in which many customs and values, and indeed collective memories clash with their own” (244).