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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Essay Topics


During Murder in Amsterdam, Buruma returns many times to the principles of the European Enlightenment, namely discourse, tolerance, and freedom of speech and debate to be handled in a non-violent, non-confrontational matter. However, as war is widely considered what Carl von Clausewitz calls “diplomacy by other means,” at what point might violence be justified in the handling of political disagreement?


Throughout Murder in Amsterdam, Buruma alludes directly to the German Occupation of the Netherlands during World War II and the treatment of Dutch Jews. How does this historical guilt hang over and influence modern-day Dutch politics and society?


Freedom of speech is considered to be a basic right for those living in modern Western liberal democracies. However, in recent years, the rise of politically correct culture has often served to demonize those who speak out too harshly against perceived minority groups. In what ways, if at all, is it possible to balance one’s right to free speech with the need to not offend minority groups whose beliefs and culture might be different from that of the majority?