Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Ian Buruma's Letter from Amsterdam

Ian Buruma, probably the world's greatest cosmopolitan and one of my favourite writers, has a reportage piece on the current atmosphere in the Netherlands in the New Yorker. It's all worth reading, but puts his finger on how even apparently normal people can go seriously astray by weaving an internet coccoon around themselves.

"This is the problem. Although Theo van Gogh was Dutch and was killed by a Dutch citizen, in the end this is not just a Dutch story but a Middle Eastern one imported to the heart of Europe. Mohammed Bouyeri, and hundreds like him, have plugged into a wider world of violent Web-based rhetoric and terrorist cells. The integration of Muslims in the Netherlands has not been a greater failure than anywhere else. But the country may have been less prepared for the holy war."

This is probably what's happening, on a smaller scale, in Ireland right now.