This book surprised me. In a politically correct Europe where it’s still taboo to criticize multiculturalism and relativism, Buruma points out the failures of the Dutch society in integrating the immigrants and their children, especially Muslims. Young Muslims are encouraged to study hard to excel in life, but when they finish their studies the job market is often closed to them. At the same time, the few of them that succeed in life and are integrated are treated like traitors, heretics deserving death by Muslim religious zealots. Another major problem is the disorientation of many young Muslims (especially men) trapped between the strict rules and values of their fathers and lands of origin, and the wide freedom and loss of values and rules of Western societies. Thus, many young Muslims turn to the mosques and religious zealotry to find a new direction and old traditions in an environment where they feel accepted and feel a sense of belonging.
Buruma talks about the blindness of the Left, that refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem, and the racism of the Right. He describes the potential seeds of destruction represented, on one side, by the native Dutch who dream of an old-fashioned, white Holland, and, on the other side, by Muslim immigrants who dream of the pure world of the Prophet in Europe.
I have found very interesting the overview on the heated debate between Muslim immigrants that have embraced the West (e.g., Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Afshin Ellian), and other immigrants that hate it, although they enjoy rights that they would not have in their Countries of origin.
In the end, this is a book on the necessary limits that tolerance, multiculturalism and relativism should have in order not to undermine the society.
Ian Buruma returns to his native Dutch land to uncover the developments following Theo Van Gogh's murder. Van Gogh is murdered by Mohammed Bouyeri, a 26 year old Dutch-Moroccan for having directed a provocative movie "Submission" about women in Islam along with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ian attempts at understanding the difficulties faced by Muslims in Netherlands, the confusion the second generation Muslims undergo being unable to relate to either the liberal ways of the west or their more conservative background, the frustration of not being completed accepted and finally how all the setbacks might potentially lead to the younger generating accepting violent ways.
The first half of book introduced a lot of characters making it confusing and not so easy to follow. The use of non-English words didn't help either. But the book picked up pace and slowly focused more on the main characters - Theo Van Gogh, Mohammed Buoyeri and Ayaan Hirsi Ali and made for a more interesting read compared to the first half. I would have enjoyed the book more if the book provided more information on the background of the main characters and how it all fits together resulting in the murder of Theo Van Gogh.
The main frustration with the book however is that, Ian Buruma doesn't conclusively point out anything or provide data to support his statements or the statements of the people who have been interviewed. Nevertheless, the book provided some insights into the not-so-easy-life faced by immigrants....Continua