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You can add quotes from Tony Blair's recent interview

Reader comment on item: Calling Islamism the Enemy

Submitted by PezDispenser (Israel), Jul 26, 2012 at 07:31

The West is Asleep on the Issue of Islamist Extremism

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/tony-blair/9420909/Tony-Blair-The-West-is-asleep-on-the-issue-of-Islamist-extremism.html

"I see the Koran very much as an outsider. It stands in the great prophetic tradition of trying to return people to the basic principles of spirituality. Taken for its time, it was an extraordinarily progressive declaration of principle. It is also extraordinary for a Christian to read: for example, there are more references to Mary than in the Gospels. The tragedy is that it has been so warped and misapplied."

And here, Tony Blair has grown sterner. 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."

[...] "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."

But he also believes that the anti-religion, Richard Dawkins crowd make everything worse. The extreme atheists "require religious fundamentalists" to make their argument for them, so "We must push back against aggressive secularism"."

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