December 1, 2018
Murder in Amsterdam
Ian Buruma in his book Murder in Amsterdam talks about the controversy regarding the assassination of Theo Van Gogh. Van Gogh made a film called Submission. In the film verses from the Koran were projected onto women’s naked bodies. This was a not so subtle attempt to show the oppression of women in Muslim communities. On November 2, 2004 Van Gogh was shot in the stomach while bicycling to work. His death was very drawn out, he staggered across the street and was shot several more times, then his killer brought out a machete and cut his throat. His killer was a Moroccan Dutchman, Mohammed Bouyeri, he pinned a note to Van Gogh’s chest that contained radical Islamist rhetoric.
There was another murder in this book that took place before Van Gogh’s. On May 6, 2002 an animal rights activist gunned down Pim Fortuyn, a politician that opposed immigration and gay liberation. Ironically the morning Van Gogh was killed he was on his way to work on 06/05 a “Hitchcockian thriller about the assassination of Pim Fortuyn,” (37). Van Gogh wanted to focus in his film about Fortuyn the outburst that followed his death. Fortuyn’s rival for Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, struggled to find words to describe the situation. When asked he could only come up with “un-Dutch” (37).
Buruma grew up in The Hague but moved to the United States. After these events the country that he returns to is unrecognizable to him. It is transformed by large numbers of Muslim immigrants from Turkey and Morocco. The Netherlands have liberal immigration policies and despite that the multicultural experiment has not gone well. Buruma struggles to find out why. Throughout the book he sits down with social workers, historians, politicians, and writers, of all various backgrounds (meaning some are Dutch, immigrants, or children of immigrants). With these encounters in mind he traces the evolution of the Netherlands. The Netherlands go from a racially similar country to a multicultural sanctuary for immigrants, mainly Muslims.
One of the people he talked with was Bellari, a psychiatrist. Bellari did some research into the mental health of immigrants, specifically cases of depression and schizophrenia. Bellari found that women were more prone to depression, while men were more susceptible to schizophrenia. But what was interesting was that it was only “second generation Moroccans that were born and educated in the Netherlands that suffered from schizophrenia.” (140). Bellari gives a few plausible explanations for this. One of them is a sense of humiliation, immigrants are more likely to see a psychiatrist only when things have gotten too bad. But his main theory is that the “problem lies in the adaptation of a strictly regulated society to a freer, more open one. This can lead to disintegration of the personality.” (140).
Buruma goes into the personal histories of the victims and their assassins, looking for the...