The problem of radical Islam is so serious that it demands that the West eschew tensions with Russia and China to confront Islamist terror, Tony Blair said in a speech Tuesday.
“At the root of the crisis [in the Middle East] lies a radicalized and politicized view of Islam, an ideology that distorts and warps Islam’s true message,” Blair said. “The threat of this radical Islam is not abating. It is growing. It is spreading across the world.”
“For the last 40 to 50 years, there has been a steady stream of funding, proselytizing, organizing and promulgating coming out of the Middle East, pushing views of religion that are narrow minded and dangerous. Unfortunately we seem blind to the enormous global impact such teaching has had and is having,” the former prime minister said. The problem, he argued, stems in part from a political reluctance to recognize the role of religion.
Islamism, Blair said, is “not about a competing view of how society or politics should be governed within a common space where you accept other views are equally valid.” Rather, he said, “It is exclusivist in nature. The ultimate goal is not a society which someone else can change after winning an election. It is a society of a fixed polity, governed by religious doctrines that are not changeable but which are, of their essence, unchangeable.”
Last summer, Blair drew attention when he criticized the Conservative-led government in Britain and current prime minister David Cameron for claiming that nothing within Islam could have justified the May 2013 murder by a Muslim man of a British soldier in Woolwich. “There is a problem within Islam — from the adherents of an ideology that is a strain within Islam,” Blair wrote in a Daily Mail editorial. “And we have to put it on the table and be honest about it.”