Speaking at New York’s 9/11 museum yesterday, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has appealed to the West to understand how terrorists are driven by jihadist ideology.
Delivering a speech published by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, Blair said: “we have spent the years since 9/11 trying to make sense of it and to combat those who share the world view which led to it …For some in the West, this notion of religion propelling people to these acts of what seems to us lunatic destruction, are so alien to our modern life experience that we want to assert that it must be about something else”.
Many in majority Muslim countries, Blair argued, followed extremists in thinking that a caliphate might be coming.
“The reality is that in parts of the Muslim community a discourse has grown up which is profoundly hostile to peaceful co-existence,” he said, adding that “the religious ideas behind Islamic extremism enjoy the support of many Muslim countries and are not just consigned to terrorists”.
Blair said it is not surprising that some Muslims resort to violence when many “really do believe that the desire of the USA or the West is to disrespect or oppress Islam”.
On a hopeful note he said that majorities in most Muslim countries do in fact support democracy and equal rights for women, and want a liberal and modern interpretation of Sharia law. These groups must be allied with to build a ‘global commitment on education’ which teaches what it means to live in a culture in which all cultures are treated equally”.