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Tony Blair: 'The West is asleep on the issue of Islamist extremism'
Princess Tony in the Telegraph.
After September 11, 2001, he now thinks, he underestimated the power of the bad ''narrative’’ of Islamist extremists. That narrative – that ''The West oppresses Islam” – ''is still there. If anything, it has grown.’’ It seeks ''supremacy not coexistence’’. He fears that ''The West is asleep on this issue’’, and yet it is the biggest challenge. In Africa, all the good things he sees through his Africa Governance Initiative face ''this threat above all others’’. In ''Sudan, Mali, Nigeria, outbursts in Tanzania and Kenya’’, sectarian Islamist extremism is the great and growing problem. By implication, Mr Blair seems to doubt President Obama’s outreach to Islam, because it tends to deal with the wrong people. Since Obama’s Cairo speech in 2009, ''the whole context has changed’’. The Muslim Brotherhood is taking over large parts of the Arab world, and ''the people without the loudest voices are desperate for our leadership’’.
''We must engage, but also challenge,’’ he warns. The Middle East ''won’t achieve democracy unless it understands that democracy is a way of thinking as well as voting. The key question is how the majority treats the minority.’’ The West, he says, has been too slow to help the people of Iran: ''It is a great civilisation. The people would undoubtedly boot their government out at the ballot box if they could. It is important they know we are prepared to help them. A Persian spring would be very welcome.’’
But have you considered, I ask, that you might be wrong about Islam? What if it is not, at root, a religion of peace? He has thought about this but doesn’t accept it. He makes a comparison with Christianity. ''At Mass, at the end of the Bible readings, we say 'This is the word of the Lord’. We now take it as the spirit of Biblical teaching. We don’t take every element of it as literal. That process took us a long time.’’ Islam is wrestling with the same process today.
Let’s bring the subject home: how does this apply to Muslims here? Mr Blair regrets that the ''Prevent’’ strategy which he devised became unfashionable. ''We mustn’t accept radicalism by accepting its narrative and disputing only its [violent] methods.’’
The comments are good.
♦ What bitter irony! He warns us against islamic extremism ,him of all people.His immigration policies and human rights legislation,more than anything else,have reduced and undermined our ability to defend ourselves against islamism.
♦ A sanctimonious snake oil salesman climbing onto a populist bandwagon in an attempt to regain power and win supporters. There are some truly odious politicians out there but this creep is the absolute pits.