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Radicalized Liberty?

Book Title: Murder in Amsterdam

Author: Ian Burma

Genre: Political/religious

On the second of November 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered in cold blood. His mediated assassination was deviously plotted by the Islamic extremist, Mohammed Bouyeri. Burma returned to his native land – Holland – as a renowned journalist, in awe of the country’s digression from the twentieth century civilization. The scene was deafening, with residents petrified to step outside, the streets empty and the joy ripped out of the country.

Behind the silencing murder, laid a corpse of political and religious motives. Van Gogh had at that time published “submission” – a feminist manifesto, undressing the oppression of Muslim women – in cooperation with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Unaware of the harmful impact the film holds, Van Gogh proudly published in 2004.

Bouyeri took offence in the “western” mockery of his culture, prompting his sinful actions. As a firm believer in the “Holy war” that needed to take place for Islam to dominate the world, Bouyeri catalysed the start to an unruly media outbreak.

His sinister deeds placed Holland a few steps behind civilization – the country was poorly advertised, marked as a war hotspot, associated with a high crime rate, and ultimately dropped in ranking. The books strongly associates the negatives of a strong patriarchy with an abdominal end.

Burma battling to believe the horror, headed for the streets – interviewing the locals, understanding the subject-matter from multiple perspectives, and gathering census. Pre-assassination Holland prided itself on being a bastion of tolerance – a liberal land open to any who love her. Unfortunately, post-assassination landed the country in panic.

Character analysis: Mohammed Bouyeri

Devoted or obsessed? Bouyeri’s eccentric style in propagating his beliefs sent the world trembling. He is a classic example of the negatives attached to a tunnel vision – his one-sided aspect on life and Islam, could arguably be irrational. The ultimate message of any religious deity is that of love. Bouyeri explicitly blindsided this virtue, in materialising his views.

However, his determination is one to applaud. When interviewed for parole and security regulations (in prison) he bluntly praised his actions – refusing to plead guilty to his crime. Till this day, Bouyeri is locked behind Hollander bars.

Character analysis: Theo Van Gogh

Although we are not exposed to much interaction with Van Gogh, his legacy speaks volumes. In attempt to move with the times, Van Gogh published “Submission” with a pure intent in raising awareness of female empowerment – a cause he literally died for. His radiant passion for empowerment gained a celebratory fan base – which pursued his ideals in “Submission”.

Character analysis: Ayaan Hirsi Ali (best identified with)

Ayaan Hirsi Ali embodied a “strong, independent woman in the twentieth century” – upon the news of Van Goghs’ death, she did not bow down. Her inspiring thrive to carry out Van Gogh’s legacy and pave her own was a beautiful journey.

Being a victim of abuse and “oppression” in a Muslim household, she escaped to Holland, Amsterdam with hope of a better tomorrow. Carrying hefty weight on her shoulders, she stood tall amongst the odds – pursing a career in female empowerment and changing the world.

Towards the sanctioning of Bouyeri’s arrest, the Holland government refused to host Ayaan Hirsi Ali – in worry of another extremist attack. The united nations tossed her from country to country (USA, UK, Canada – to name a few), dehumanizing her worth.

Character analysis: Ian Burma

Burma held a strong sense of responsibility in his persona. Maybe it was pent up guilt, for not having focused his journaling on his country, as opposed to the world. His curiosity for the matter at hand is inspiring and urges the reader to uncover hidden truths.

Aspect best enjoyed

Forensics and religion have always been two fields I have deep interest in – these two combined completely fascinated me. I enjoyed reading Bouyeri’s “obsession” with the Holy War. The underlying psychology enhanced the authenticity of the book. References to tangible places and people, made it surreal and enthralling.

Lessons learned

An important lesson on ‘devotion and obsession” is apparent. I learnt the value of attracting the good and thereby receiving the good. A sound devotion to anything, proves to be healthy and fond of success.

Another important lesson was that of female empowerment. Watching Ayaan Hirsi step up to the plate, when times became cumbersome and accusatory – was a lesson to all girls out there, a lesson to stand up for what you believe in.


The book successfully satisfied the reader, by ending with closure and a postscript – as it offers further insight to the scattered lives of the book’s protagonists.


The writing style of the book was well thought through, it was refreshing and easily comprehensive. I would have made slight changes to the detaining in the content, especially during Bouyeri’s jail interviews and life behind bars.


Burmans “Murder in Amsterdam” is any journalists’ heaven. I would highly recommend the book to anyone interested in conflicting politics and religion. It is a must read, when grasping the reality of the world.

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