Tony Blair had a number of things to say about Islam in The Mail On Sunday. Having said there was no problem with Islam as a religion of peace:
But there is a problem within Islam – from the adherents of an ideology that is a strain within Islam. And we have to put it on the table and be honest about it.
Of course there are Christian extremists and Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu ones. But I am afraid this strain is not the province of a few extremists. It has at its heart a view about religion and about the interaction between religion and politics that is not compatible with pluralistic, liberal, open-minded societies.
At the extreme end of the spectrum are terrorists, but the world view goes deeper and wider than it is comfortable for us to admit. So by and large we don’t admit it. This has two effects. First, those with that view think we are weak and that gives them strength.
Second, those within Islam – and the good news is there are many – who actually know this problem exists and want to do something about it, lose heart. All over the Middle East and beyond there is a struggle being played out.
On the one side, there are Islamists who have this exclusivist and reactionary world view. They are a significant minority, loud and well organised. On the other are the modern-minded, those who hated the old oppression by corrupt dictators and who hate the new oppression by religious fanatics. They are potentially the majority, but unfortunately they are badly organised.
The seeds of future fanaticism and terror, possibly even major conflict, are being sown. We have to help sow seeds of reconciliation and peace. But clearing the ground for peace is not always peaceful.
There is an enemy within that Islam needs to deal with – an ideology that cherry picks the Koran for a jihad against the west for being a pluralistic, liberal open minded society. For some though that goes against the grain of blaming western interference in the Arab region as the number one cause for Islamic extremism.
Blair’s critics would rather paint Islamic radicals as victims reacting against imperialist aggression, put on a war footing caused in no small part by the “war criminal” Tony Blair himself. That however does not work when we see in public policy how Islamist governments behave, and the political goal of Al Qaeda as a single Islamic nation for the Arab world and as a social movement for theocratic absolutism.
Mo Ansar has taken exception to what Tony Blair wrote:
The cricket did not seem to help much:
I have asked Ansar to give a detailed critique rather than mud slinging. Blair went out of his way to praise Islam as a religion of peace and call the problem an ideology. The only modern way he suggests this can be beaten is:
The better idea is a modern view of religion and its place in society and politics. There has to be respect and equality between people of different faiths. Religion must have a voice in the political system but not govern it.
We have to start with how to educate children about faith, here and abroad. That is why I started a foundation whose specific purpose is to educate children of different faiths across the world to learn about each other and live with each other.
If that makes Tony Blair an islamophobic the word has been debased as an attempt to silence critics rather than deal with hate and violent crimes committed against Muslim people.
Ansar, we need to talk about the ideology that exists within Islam and how it is going to be challenged externally and internally. In the meantime we will do our best to maintain a secular liberal pluralistic society as our contribution. We need you to tackle the ideology of the extremists. You are ideally placed to complete this mission, knowing Islam as you do. Maybe the way you reacted, throwing your toys out of the pram, was just a cover for the real task that lies ahead. That in reality you will seek and counter hatred that is perpetuated in the name of your faith. Maybe it is so covert we just cannot see this in action through the mud racking.
Time for some intrafaith dialogue even if behind the scenes.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog