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Full text: Tony Blair’s speech on why the Middle East matters

23 April 2014

10:49 AM

23 April 2014

10:49 AM

It is unsurprising that public opinion in the UK and elsewhere, resents the notion that we should engage with the politics of the Middle East and beyond. We have been through painful engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq. After 2008, we have had our own domestic anxieties following the financial crisis. And besides if we want to engage, people reasonably ask: where, how and to what purpose?

More recently, Ukraine has served to push the Middle East to the inside pages, with the carnage of Syria featuring somewhat, but the chaos of Libya, whose Government we intervened to change, hardly meriting a mention.

However the Middle East matters. What is presently happening there, still represents the biggest threat to global security of the early 21st C. The region, including the wider area outside its conventional boundary – Pakistan, Afghanistan to the east and North Africa to the west – is in turmoil with no end in sight to the upheaval and any number of potential outcomes from the mildly optimistic to catastrophe.

At the root of the crisis lies a radicalised and politicised view of Islam, an ideology that distorts and warps Islam’s true message. The threat of this radical Islam is not abating. It is growing. It is spreading across the world. It is de-stabilising communities and even nations. It is undermining the possibility of peaceful co-existence in an era of globalisation. And in the face of this threat we seem curiously reluctant to acknowledge it and powerless to counter it effectively.

In this speech I will set out how we should do this, including the recognition that on this issue, whatever our other differences, we should be prepared to reach out and cooperate with the East, and in particular, Russia and China.

The statement that the Middle East ‘matters’, is no longer uncontested. Some say after the shale revolution, the region has declined in significance for energy supplies, at least for the USA. Others say that though they accept that it continues to be a relevant and important region, there are other more pressing problems, most particularly now with Eastern Europe facing a resurgent, nationalist Russia. For the most part, a very common sentiment is that the region may be important but it is ungovernable and therefore impossible and therefore we should let it look after itself.

I would say there are four reasons why the Middle East remains of central importance and cannot be relegated to the second order.

First and most obviously, it is still where a large part of the world’s energy supplies are generated, and whatever the long term implications of the USA energy revolution, the world’s dependence on the Middle East is not going to disappear any time soon. In any event, it has a determining effect on the price of oil; and thus on the stability and working of the global economy.

Secondly, it is right on the doorstep of Europe. The boundary of the EU is a short distance from the Levantine coast. Instability here affects Europe, as does instability in North Africa, in close proximity to Spain and Italy.

Third, in the centre of this maelstrom, is Israel. Its alliance with the USA, its partnership with leading countries of Europe, and the fact that it is a Western democracy, mean that its fate is never going to be a matter of indifference. Over these past years, with considerable skill, the Israelis have also built up relationships with China and with Russia. These aren’t the same as their long standing Western alliances but they have significance. Were the Israelis to be pulled into a regional conflict, there is no realistic way that the world could or would want to shrug it off. For the moment, Israel has successfully stayed aloof from the storm around it. But the one thing the last few years has taught us (and them) is that we can expect the unexpected.

Finally and least obvious, is a reason we are curiously reluctant to admit, in part because the admission would throw up some very difficult policy choices. It is in the Middle East that the future of Islam will be decided. By this I mean the future of its relationship with politics. This is controversial because the world of politics is uncomfortable talking about religion; because some will say that really the problems are not religious but political; and even because – it is true – that the largest Muslim populations are to be found outside the region not inside it.

But I assert it nonetheless. I do so because underneath the turmoil and revolution of the past years is one very clear and unambiguous struggle: between those with a modern view of the Middle East, one of pluralistic societies and open economies, where the attitudes and patterns of globalisation are embraced; and, on the other side, those who want to impose an ideology born out of a belief that there is one proper religion and one proper view of it, and that this view should, exclusively, determine the nature of society and the political economy. We might call this latter perspective an ‘Islamist’ view, though one of the frustrating things about this debate is the inadequacy of the terminology and the tendency for any short hand to be capable of misinterpretation, so that you can appear to elide those who support the Islamist ideology with all Muslims.

But wherever you look – from Iraq to Libya to Egypt to Yemen to Lebanon to Syria and then further afield to Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan – this is the essential battle. Of course there are an array of complexities in each case, derived from tribe, tradition and territory. I would not for a moment suggest that these conflicts do not have their own individual characteristics. And the lack of economic opportunity is without doubt a prime proximate cause of the region’s chaos. But there is something frankly odd about the reluctance to accept what is so utterly plain: that they have in common a struggle around the issue of the rightful place of religion, and in particular Islam, in politics.

It is crucially important in this description not to confuse the issue of religion and politics, with the question of religiosity. Many of those totally opposed to the Islamist ideology are absolutely devout Muslims. In fact it is often the most devout who take most exception to what they regard as the distortion of their faith by those who claim to be ardent Muslims whilst acting in a manner wholly in contradiction to the proper teaching of the Koran.

Neither should this be seen in simplistic Sunni/Shia terms. Sometimes the struggle is seen in those terms and sometimes it is right to see it so. But the real battle is against both Sunni and Shia extremism where the majority of people, Sunni or Shia, who are probably perfectly content to live and let live, in the same way that nowadays most Catholics and Protestants do, are caught in a vicious and often literal crossfire between competing exclusivist views of the ‘true’ Islam. Where the two views align, whatever their mutual antagonism, is in the belief that those who think differently are the ‘enemy’ either within or without.

The reason this matters so much is that this ideology is exported around the world. The Middle East is still the epicentre of thought and theology in Islam. Those people, fortunately not a majority, in countries like, for example, Indonesia or Malaysia who espouse a strict Islamist perspective, didn’t originate these ideas. They imported them.

For the last 40/50 years, there has been a steady stream of funding, proselytising, organising 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.

Within the Middle East itself, the result has been horrible, with people often facing a choice between authoritarian Government that is at least religiously tolerant; and the risk that in throwing off the Government they don’t like, they end up with a religiously intolerant quasi-theocracy.

Take a step back and analyse the world today: with the possible exception of Latin America (leaving aside Hezbollah in the tri-border area in South America), there is not a region of the world not adversely affected by Islamism and the ideology is growing. The problems of the Mid East and North Africa are obvious. But look at the terror being inflicted in countries – Nigeria, Mali, Central African Republic, Chad and many others – across Sub Saharan Africa. Indeed I would argue that that religious extremism is possibly the single biggest threat to their ability to overcome the massive challenges of development today.

In Central Asia, terrorist attacks are regular occurrences in Russia, whose Muslim population is now over 15%, and radical influences are stretching across the whole of the central part of Northern Asia, reaching even the Western province of Xinjiang in China.

In the Far East, there has been the important breakthrough in resolving the Mindanao dispute in the Philippines, where well over 100,000 people lost their lives in the last decade or so. But elsewhere, in Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Indonesia, there remain real inter-religious challenges and tensions. In the recent Indonesian elections, the Islamic parties received a third of the vote.

The Muslim population in Europe is now over 40m and growing. The Muslim Brotherhood and other organisations are increasingly active and they operate without much investigation or constraint. Recent controversy over schools in Birmingham (and similar allegations in France) show heightened levels of concern about Islamist penetration of our own societies.


All of this you can read about.

However for the purposes of this speech, two fascinating things stand out for me. The first is the absolutely rooted desire on the part of Western commentators to analyse these issues as disparate rather than united by common elements. They go to extraordinary lengths to say why, in every individual case, there are multiple reasons for understanding that this is not really about Islam, it is not really about religion; there are local or historic reasons which explain what is happening. There is a wish to eliminate the obvious common factor in a way that is almost wilful. Now of course as I have said, there is always a context that is unique to each situation. There will naturally be a host of local factors that play a part in creating the issue. But it is bizarre to ignore the fact the principal actors in all situations, express themselves through the medium of religious identity or that in ideological terms, there is a powerful unifying factor based on a particular world view of religion and its place in politics and society.

The second thing is that there is a deep desire to separate the political ideology represented by groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood from the actions of extremists including acts of terrorism. This stems from a completely laudable sense that we must always distinguish between those who violate the law and those we simply disagree with.

But laudable though the motives are, which lead us to this distinction, if we’re not careful, they also blind us to the fact that the ideology itself is nonetheless dangerous and corrosive; and cannot and should not be treated as a conventional political debate between two opposing views of how society should be governed.

It may well be the case that in particular situations, those who follow a strictly Islamist political agenda neither advocate nor approve of political violence. There are of course a variety of different views within such a broadly described position. But their overall ideology is one which inevitably creates the soil in which such extremism can take root. In many cases, it is clear that they regard themselves as part of a spectrum, with a difference of view as to how to achieve the goals of Islamism, not a difference as to what those goals are; and in certain cases, they will support the use of violence.

At this point it must again be emphasised: it is not Islam itself that gives rise to this ideology. It is an interpretation of Islam, actually a perversion of it which many Muslims abhor. There used to be such interpretations of Christianity which took us years to eradicate from our mainstream politics.

The reason that this ideology is dangerous is that its implementation is incompatible with the modern world – politically, socially, and economically. Why? Because the way the modern world works is through connectivity. Its essential nature is pluralist. It favours the open-minded. Modern economies work through creativity and connections. Democracy cannot function except as a way of thinking as well as voting. You put your view; you may lose; you try to win next time; or you win but you accept that you may lose next time.

That is not the way that the Islamist ideology works. It 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. 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.

Because the West is so completely unfamiliar with such an ideology –though actually the experience of revolutionary communism or fascism should resonate with older generations – we can’t really see the danger properly. We feel almost that if we identify it in these terms, we’re being anti-Muslim, a sentiment on which the Islamists cleverly play.

Right now in the Middle East, this is the battle being waged. Of course in each country, it arises in a different form. But in each case, take out the extremist views around religion, and each conflict or challenge becomes infinitely more manageable. This is where, even though at one level the ideology coming out of Shia Iran and that of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood may seem to be different, in reality they amount to the same thing with the same effect – the holding back of the proper political, social and economic advance of the country.

It is this factor that then can explain many of the things that presently we seem to find inexplicable in a way that fuels our desire to dis-engage from the region and beyond it.

So we look at the issue of intervention or not and seem baffled. We change the regimes in Afghanistan and in Iraq, put soldiers on the ground in order to help build the country, a process which a majority of people in both countries immediately participated in, through the elections. But that proved immensely difficult and bloody.

We change the regime in Libya through air power, we don’t commit forces on the ground, again the people initially respond well, but now Libya is a mess and a mess that is de-stabilising everywhere around it, (apart from Algeria partly because Algeria already went through a conflict precisely around the issue of Islamism in which thousands lost their lives.)

In Syria, we call for the regime to change, we encourage the Opposition to rise up, but then when Iran activates Hezbollah on the side of Assad, we refrain even from air intervention to give the Opposition a chance. The result is a country in disintegration, millions displaced, a death toll approximating that of Iraq, with no end in sight and huge risks to regional stability.

The impact of this recent history, on Western opinion is a wish at all costs to stay clear of it all.

Then there has been the so-called Arab Spring. At first we jumped in to offer our support to those on the street. We are now bemused and bewildered that it hasn’t turned out quite how we expected.

Even in respect of the MEPP there is an audible feeling of dismay, – that as the world around Israel and Palestine went into revolutionary spasm, and the need for progress seemed so plain, the issue in which we have expended extraordinary energy and determination through US Secretary Kerry, still seems as intractable as ever.

Yet the explanation for all of these apparently unresolvable contradictions is staring us in the face.

It is that there is a Titanic struggle going on within the region between those who want the region to embrace the modern world – politically, socially and economically – and those who instead want to create a politics of religious difference and exclusivity. This is the battle. This is the distorting feature. This is what makes intervention so fraught but non- intervention equally so. This is what complicates the process of political evolution. This is what makes it so hard for democracy to take root. This is what, irrespective of the problems on the Israeli side, divides Palestinian politics and constrains their leadership.

The important point for Western opinion is that this is a struggle with two sides. So when we look at the Middle East and beyond it to Pakistan or Iran and elsewhere, it isn’t just a vast unfathomable mess with no end in sight and no one worthy of our support. It is in fact a struggle in which our own strategic interests are intimately involved; where there are indeed people we should support and who, ironically, are probably in the majority if only that majority were mobilised, organised and helped.

But what is absolutely necessary is that we first liberate ourselves from our own attitude. We have to take sides. We have to stop treating each country on the basis of whatever seems to make for the easiest life for us at any one time. We have to have an approach to the region that is coherent and sees it as a whole. And above all, we have to commit. We have to engage.

Engagement and commitment are words easy to use. But they only count when they come at a cost. Alliances are forged at moments of common challenge. Partnerships are built through trials shared. There is no engagement that doesn’t involve a price. There is no commitment that doesn’t mean taking a risk.

In saying this, it does not mean that we have to repeat the enormous commitment of Iraq and Afghanistan. It may well be that in time people come to view the impact of those engagements differently. But there is no need, let alone appetite, to do that.

I completely understand why our people feel they have done enough, more than enough. And when they read of those we have tried to help spurning our help, criticising us, even trying to kill us, they’re entitled to feel aggrieved and to say: we’re out.

However, as the Afghans who braved everything to vote show us and the Iraqis who will also come out and vote despite all the threats and the inadequacy of the system they now live in, demonstrate, those who spurn our help are only part of the story. There are others whose spirit and determination stay undaunted. And I think of the Egyptians who have been through so much and yet remain with optimism; and the Palestinians who work with me and who, whatever the frustrations, still want and believe in a peaceful solution; and I look at Tunisians and Libyans and Yemenis who are trying to make it all work properly; and I realise this is not a struggle without hope. This is not a mess where everyone is as bad as each other. In other words it matters and there is a side we should be proud to take. There are people to stand beside and who will stand beside us.

But we have to be clear what that side is and why we’re taking it. So what does that mean?

It means supporting the principles of religious freedom and open, rule based economies. It means helping those countries whose people wish to embrace those principles to achieve them. Where there has been revolution, we should be on the side of those who support those principles and opposed to those who would thwart them. Where there has not been revolution, we should support the steady evolution towards them.

If we apply those principles to the Middle East, it would mean the following.

Egypt. I start with Egypt not because what is happening in Syria is not more horrifying; but because on the fate of Egypt hangs the future of the region. Here we have to understand plainly what happened. The Muslim Brotherhood Government was not simply a bad Government. It was systematically taking over the traditions and institutions of the country. The revolt of 30 June 2013 was not an ordinary protest. It was the absolutely necessary rescue of a nation. We should support the new Government and help. None of this means that where there are things we disagree strongly with – such as the death sentence on the 500 – that we do not speak out. Plenty of Egyptians have. But it does mean that we show some sensitivity to the fact that over 400 police officers have suffered violent deaths and several hundred soldiers been killed. The next President will face extraordinary challenges. It is massively in our interests that he succeeds. We should mobilise the international community in giving Egypt and its new President as much assistance as we can so that the country gets a chance not to return to the past but to cross over to a better future.

Syria. This is an unmitigated disaster. We are now in a position where both Assad staying and the Opposition taking over seem bad options. The former is responsible for creating this situation. But the truth is that there are so many fissures and problems around elements within the Opposition that people are rightly wary now of any solution that is an outright victory for either side. Repugnant though it may seem, the only way forward is to conclude the best agreement possible even if it means in the interim President Assad stays for a period. Should even this not be acceptable to him, we should consider active measures to help the Opposition and force him to the negotiating table, including no fly zones whilst making it clear that the extremist groups should receive no support from any of the surrounding nations.

Tunisia. Here there have been genuine and positive attempts by the new Government to escape from the dilemmas of the region and to shape a new Constitution. Supporting the new Government should be an absolute priority. As the new President has rightly said for a fraction of what we’re offering Ukraine – which of course is the correct thing to do – we could put Tunisia on its feet. We should do so. This would be a very sensible investment.

Libya. We bear a responsibility for what has happened. Their urgent need is for security sector reform. We have made some attempts to do so. But obviously the scale of the task and the complications of the militia make it very hard. But Libya is not Iraq or Afghanistan. It is not impossible to help and NATO has the capability to do so. However reluctant we are to make this commitment, we have to recognise the de-stabilising impact Libya is having at present. If it disintegrates completely, it will affect the whole of the region around it and feed the instability in Sub- Saharan Africa.

Yemen. Again the country is trying to make progress in circumstances that are unimaginably difficult. We are giving support to the new Government. There is a new Constitution. But again they urgently need help with security sector reform and with development.

Iran. We should continue to make it clear, as the Obama administration is rightly doing, that they have to step back from being a nuclear threshold state. The next weeks will be a crucial phase in the negotiation. But I do not favour yielding to their demands for regional influence in return for concessions on their nuclear ambitions. The Iranian Government play a deliberately de-stabilising role across the region. Our goals should not include regime change. Their people will, in the end, have to find their own way to do that. However we should at every opportunity, push back against the use of their power to support extremism.

MEPP. Since becoming Secretary of State, John Kerry has put immense effort into making the peace process work. As we speak, his efforts hang in the balance. Many people said he should not have given such priority to this issue. They are wrong. It remains absolutely core to the region and the world. Not because the Israeli / Palestinian conflict is the cause of our problems. But because solving it would be such a victory for the very forces we should support. Now it may be that after years of it being said that solving this question is the route to solving the regions’ problems, we’re about to enter a new phase where solving the region’s problems a critical part of solving the Israeli / Palestinian issue. But the point is that John Kerry’s commitment has not been in vain. He has put himself in an immensely powerful position to drive this forward by virtue of that commitment. He needs our support in doing so.

Elsewhere across the region we should be standing steadfast by our friends and allies as they try to change their own countries in the direction of reform. Whether in Jordan or the Gulf where they’re promoting the values of religious tolerance and open, rule based economies, or taking on the forces of reaction in the shape of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, we should be supporting and assisting them.

Finally, we have to elevate the issue of religious extremism to the top of the agenda. All over the world the challenge of defeating this ideology requires active and sustained engagement. Consider this absurdity: that we spend billions of $ on security arrangements and on defence to protect ourselves against the consequences of an ideology that is being advocated in the formal and informal school systems and in civic institutions of the very countries with whom we have intimate security and defence relationships. Some of those countries of course wish to escape from the grip of this ideology. But often it is hard for them to do so within their own political constraints. They need to have this issue out in the open where it then becomes harder for the promotion of this ideology to happen underneath the radar. In other words they need us to make this a core part of the international dialogue in order to force the necessary change within their own societies. This struggle between what we may call the open-minded and the closed-minded is at the heart of whether the 21st C turns in the direction of peaceful co-existence or conflict between people of different cultures.

If we do not act, then we will start to see reactions against radical Islam which will then foster extremism within other faiths. Indeed we see some evidence of this already directed against Muslims in Asia particularly.

When we consider the defining challenges of our time, surely this one should be up there along with the challenge of the environment or economic instability. Add up the deaths around the world now – and even leave out the theatre of the Middle East – and the toll on human life is deplorable. In Nigeria recently and Pakistan alone thousands are now dying in religiously inspired conflict. And quite apart from the actual loss of life, there is the loss of life opportunities for parts of the population mired in backward thinking and reactionary attitudes especially towards girls.

On this issue also, there is a complete identity of interest between East and West. China and Russia have exactly the same desire to defeat this ideology as do the USA and Europe. Here is a subject upon which all the principal nations of the G20 could come together, could agree to act, and could find common ground to common benefit. An international programme to eradicate religious intolerance and prejudice from school systems and informal education systems and from organisations in civic society would have a huge galvanising effect in making unacceptable what is currently ignored or tolerated.

So there is an agenda here in part about the Middle East and its importance; and in part about seeing what is happening there in the context of its impact on the wider world.

This is why I work on the Middle East Peace Process; why I began my Foundation to promote inter-faith dialogue. Why I will do all I can to help governments confronting these issues.

Consider for a moment since 9/11 how our world has changed, how in a myriad of different ways from the security measures we now take for granted to the arenas of conflict that have now continued over a span of years, there is a price being paid in money, life and opportunity for millions. This is not a conventional war. It isn’t a struggle between super powers or over territory. But it is real. It is fearsome in its impact. It is growing in its reach. It is a battle about belief and about modernity. It is important because the world through technology and globalisation is pushing us together across boundaries of faith and culture. Unaddressed, the likelihood of conflict increases. Engagement does not always mean military involvement. Commitment does not mean going it alone. But it does mean stirring ourselves. It does mean seeing the struggle for what it is. It does mean taking a side and sticking with it.

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Show comments
  • hmelmed

    It is never too late to state the truth. Whatever mistakes Blair may have made he has had a unique exposure to the politics of the Middle East & elsewhere. He has
    international credibility. It is crazy for those who see the danger that Islam poses to our way of life to be fighting among ourselves. We need to get behind the important message that Tony Blair has articulated.

  • the81kid

    If there is someone who needs to read Edward Said’s “Orientalism”, it is Tony Blair.
    He’s repeating the exact same lies, colonialist, racist and Orientalist rubbish as our leaders 150 years ago. Nothing has changed: “we” are civilized, “they” are savages, “we” have an obligation – nay, duty – to civilize them. No mention of the fact that we kill 1,000x more of them than they have ever of us. And basically all our victims have been from our invasions of their countries. God help us all. History has taught this man nothing.

  • Raoul Machal

    As a wiser man said: “The Problem with Islamic Fundamentalism are the Fundamentals of Islam”.

    That what is perverted about Islam is Islam itself. The sooner Western politicians concede the facts before them, the lower the price in blood will be to take back our civilisation and communities.

    Muslims have a choice, but Islam is what it is.

  • IftikharA

    Quote from Blair speech:

    The Muslim population in Europe is now over 40m and growing. The Muslim Brotherhood and other organisations are increasingly active and they operate without much investigation or constraint. Recent controversy over schools in Birmingham (and similar allegations in France) show heightened levels of concern about Islamist penetration of our own societies.

    What’s taking place is an absolute disgrace. This whole witch hunt is putting Muslims off from becoming governors at a time when it is need the most. Why should Muslim parents be targeted when all they want at the end of the day is a good all round education for their children. Before Muslims governors came on to the scene all the inner city schools were doing poorly and failing all the children of the school. Muslim parents were criticised for their lack of involvement in their children’s schools. Now they are being vilified. It is an absolute disgrace that an ex anti terrorist police office has been brought in to investigate the situation. It stinks of racism and the desire to label all Muslims into the category of extremist and jihadist. What a disgrace by the national and the local government. It’s wrong for Gove to be deliberately politicising our Education system. All our children deserve respect and not to be scapegoated. What a total waste of tax payers money and tactical manoeuvre by Michael Gove to divert attention away from the real issues. Gove’s war is designed to destabilise governing bodies where Muslims form a majority. Don’t want us to be part of ‘big society’? We totally reject the idea that there is Muslim plot to take over Birmingham schools. We abhor the scapegoating
    of the Muslim community being whipped up by the media. We call for the removal
    of Peter Clarke as we believe this is a provocative appointment, designed to
    divide our community. I don’t believe that there is an Islamic Plot to take over
    Birmingham schools. It’s a set-up. Anonymous complaints have been used in the
    past to hound good head teachers of community schools out of their jobs in order
    to facilitate the creation of academies. This whole story smells of falsification and corruption. I suspect that the people wishing to take over schools are not Islamic extremists, but Academy Chains with business interests. A shamefully irresponsible and sensationalised inquiry whose adverse impact on community relations locally and nationally will sadly be lingering long and far.

    If British authorities are so concerned about their education institutions being infiltrated by “extremists” then I suggest they stop Tony Blair, architect in chief of the illegal and violent 2003 Iraq invasion from speaking at colleges and universities across the UK and the world. His lies and fabrications caused the deaths, directly and indirectly, of thousands of Iraqis, British and Americans. While the survivors of his wars suffer in silence, this former British Prime Minister makes millions through his speaking engagements at educational institutions across the world with little or no sign of remorse for the suffering he caused. Nothing I see in the above articles suggests the British Muslim educators in question did anything illegal, let alone anywhere as remotely destructive as the twice elected British Prime Minister. Britain’s interests would be served better if they questioned their own domestic and
    overseas policies instead of perennially whining on about “extremist” from
    their (mostly) law abiding immigrant communities.

    There are a total of 21300 Primary and 3900 Secondary schools in the
    UK. Finding that 6 out of these 25200 had board members who wanted to push their extremist views over the governance of those school is not a Islamic Plot or
    Trojan Horse to Islamises UK. This is a massive overreaction and the
    Islamophobia on display in the comments is more terrifying than the actual case
    itself. Stop the racist witch hunt in Birmingham schools. We Muslims have a
    right to our religion. I decry everything which denigrates Muslims in this
    country. The media and governmental attitudes and actions, inflame prejudice and
    ignorance. We want the best for our children and such baseless witch hunt of
    school governors does not help the cause of better education.

    Stop this hate against Muslims. It is not them who are terrorists , but all those who imply they are with the help of media you try bringing others to your side giving false details – twin towers wasn’t Muslim either – that was the Americans – you will not win as Islam Will forever grow and prove it is peaceful through the will of God (Allah SWT)… ameen. This is undermining confidence in the Muslim community and increasing Islamophobia. This is another example of the media whipping up hysteria against the UK Muslim community. The way our Govt treating British Muslims is as if all Muslims are terrorists unless they prove otherwise. Govt should focus on its job. Govt of this school worked hard to help a failing school achieve outstanding rating from Ofsted. Please fix Ofsted and stop demonising Muslims.

    Muslim children not only need halal meat or Eid Holidays but they need state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their development period also. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school. Legally, the state has an obligation to respect the rights
    of parents to ensure that ‘education and teaching(of their children) is in
    conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.’ The schools
    must satisfy the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural needs of Muslim pupils.
    State schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers are not in a position to
    satisfy their needs. A good school is not just a knowledge factory or a conveyor
    belt for churning out exam passes – it is a community, a family. A community is
    held together by common values and principles.
    London School of Islamics Trust

  • cartimandua

    At the back of all modern conflicts are vast population rises and a lack of job opportunities for the resulting youth bulge.
    It is more obvious in those societies where there may be child marriage and or multiple wives. Those societies are very often Muslim or tribal Africa.
    Perhaps Mr B could ask the Pope to “permit” contraception and sterilization. Otherwise aid only grows the problem.
    Mali and Niger and Somalia are in the top 4 for population rise. Pakistan will be the worlds 4th most populous country by 2050.
    The ME is just where modernity tips up against the tribal “ways” where population is “managed” by war pestilence and famine.
    If we do nothing we need the drawbridge firmly up. We need out of the EU and out of refugee/asylum agreements.
    Send them contraception and require gender equality in both laws and in practice.
    Or just let them get on with it.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Tired of Blair. Tired of the causes of Blair. His wars did more to de-stabilise the Middle East and stoke hatred here than anything that went before. He should be in prison for the deaths of millions not making millions.

    • cartimandua

      No they didnt

      • Colonel Mustard

        Yes they did.

        • cartimandua

          Show us the free press under Saddam ????? Pardon?
          He killed 2 million. Of course Iraqis did not stop killing each other day 1. they are also a cruel Arab society and it is a revenge society.
          Europeans would have got right on building not killing.
          In any case it was not just about the Iraqis. We had necessary interests around oil and security.
          Energy from the gulf was and is not “optional”. The oil leases had been snapped up by Russia (for arms sales to Iraq). Now they are shared.
          In 2001 there was rogue Russian military and Mafia selling god what to god knows who.
          Putin cleaned it up and that was a good thing. Before Putin no one knew if the Russian military was even in civilian control.
          And they had the largest WMD stocks in the world.

          • Colonel Mustard

            None of which pre and post justification for war refutes:-

            “His wars did more to de-stabilise the Middle East and stoke hatred here than anything that went before.”

            • cartimandua

              But I have explained more than once there are 100 million in the youth bulge of the MENA region.
              They are and always would be “unstable” no matter what we did or didn’t do.

              • Colonel Mustard

                I don’t care. What will matter in future years is the radicalised youth here. And Blair will be responsible for that on at least two counts.

  • Agrippina

    ‘For the last 40/50 years, there has been a steady stream of funding,
    proselytising, organising and promulgating coming out of the Middle
    East, pushing views of religion that are narrow minded and dangerous’.

    They are here, thanks to you and all the govts since the 1960’s you failed to recognise that letting in all and sundry was dangerous.

    Even today the muslim brotherhood from Egypt are coming here to raise funds and take soldiers back with them to fight their war over there.

    You fool it is your fault the poisonous ideologues are taking over the faith schools to spread their word and take over from within.

    • allymax bruce

      “They are here, thanks to you and all the govts since the 1960’s you
      failed to recognise that letting in all and sundry was dangerous.”
      No, Bliar knew exactly what he was doing; his Zionist pay-masters have been telling him what to do and say since his uni’ days.

  • Tony_E

    What ever happened to the Chilcott enquiry?

    • cartimandua

      There is nothing to be done because conversations with foreign governments must remain private.
      It is not private that before Iraq Putin told Blair the Soviet arsenal was insecure or that Zawahiri said “if you have the money you can buy a nuke from a Russian”.

    • allymax bruce

      It’s hanging-on, until we get a ‘movement of Zionists’ out of the EU Commission.

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    It doesn’t matter what he says or whether there is truth in what he says. His reputation is so tarnished now that few will listen to him.

  • cartimandua

    There is no “dialogue” which will reduce conflict when Islam and Catholicism treat women worse than goats and promote vast population increases.
    You want conflicts to stop insist women are treated as equals and give contraception in aid packages.
    Otherwise someone shoots those extra kids later on or drops a drone on them ducks when they explode themselves etc.

  • cartimandua

    The trouble is Mr Blair has joined a church which denies people contraception and frowns on all other ways of managing fertility.
    There are very few conflicts where over population and youth bulges are not at the back of it.
    With youth bulge conflicts you sort it out over there or you isolate it and leave them to fight to a standstill.
    So you either spend a lot of blood and treasure or you stop wringing hands about it and pull up the drawbridge.
    Doing nothing means no aid or remittances and no asylum.
    And over here if you want us to become a failed state just carry right on with the multi culti. There are obvious groups here with large family sizes and high unemployment.
    The third way is to tell people to limit their family size here or abroad or “talk to the hand”.
    There was nothing more sick making and self defeating that the international community permitting Afghanistan to make a law permitting the starving to death of damaged child brides who could no longer “put out”.

  • ButcombeMan

    The more I hear from Tony Blair, the more I am disgusted by him and everything he stands for and did..

  • Tony_E

    Having read the Koran, I can only suggest that Mr Blair is somewhat delusional about which ‘branch’ of Islam is the more true to the text.

    Islamism, follows the text very closely and takes some pretty literal interpretations from it. In the West and in other countries with more moderate religious interpretations we try to assume that there is some ‘hidden meaning’ or ‘context’ that is missed, similarly to the way that Christians interpret the ‘lessons’ from the old testament as if their context was somehow different and their literal meaning should be discarded.

  • zanzamander

    An inter-faith dialogue is not required here, we are not the ones chasing Islam or its adherents away. Instead we pay tax payers money to promote it. Go and preach your rubbish on inter-faith dialogue in Islamic countries like Pakistan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia etc. where non-Muslims are harassed, discriminated against in jobs, housing and welfare and killed, not to mention their places of worship regularly looted and burnt.

    An inter-faith dialogue is essentially a monologue: Islam talks, we listen. Your job is to promote Islam, you are being paid to do so, if not on anything else, at least be honest on this.

  • zanzamander

    At the root of the crisis lies a radicalised and politicised view of Islam, an ideology that distorts and warps Islam’s true message.

    The only person distorting Islam’s true message is people like you, Tony. Islam has remained steadfast in the face of idiots like you who want to mould it to fit your own prejudices.

    Islam is what it has always been, an intolerant and an expansionist political and a military ideology masquerading as religion.

    If you live to be a hundred years, you’d still remain nothing but a useful idiot. How dare you talk about Syria, it is your lot that are helping the fanatics that many of our brave men and women have died fighting.

    Remember them, Tony?

  • anyfool

    Has Blair`s profile faded so much that he needs to stand on the mountains of dead that he helped create, just to get his highly paid speaking engagements back on track

    • dmitri the impostor

      Tony Blair sez:

      ‘But hey. Look. I did wha’ I fough’ was righ’.’

  • zanzamander

    Middle East may or may not matter, but Tony Blair most certainly does not.

    This man is a closet Islamist. He loves Islam but has come to realise that it does not love him the same way. Ahh…
    So he tries to change Islam and wants to shape it in his own vision.

    Blair and his Lefty liberal army in the media, politics and academia have wrought havoc on us in the West. It is because of them that Islam is growing in dominance in Europe (and the world) and now suddenly when it is too late to do anything but capitulate, he has woken up to the fact that his own off-springs will soon have to face the wrath that many in the Islamic world have faced.

    He is peddling a softer, stealthier Jihad. This man is a dangerous, disturbed and clueless individual and the biggest favour we can do him (and us) is to ignore him.

  • Jez

    “This is not a conventional war. It isn’t a struggle between super powers or over territory.”

    Er, It probably is?

    You’ve mentioned previously that this series of regions are important due to energy resources- which means that TB’s bosses in the financial world will find it incredibly important. From massive profit generating efforts to just bubbling up the increase returns for the global investment banks- it must be absolutely essential.

    China does not have the Imperialist baggage when negotiating. The West seems to now have only propped up puppet regimes in the keystone Muslim states due to it’s actions this last decade and a half.

    What is the answer Tony; Drone strike them into Liberalism?

  • Kitty MLB

    Does that man feel no shame. He took us into an allegedly illegal war with Iraq
    because his buddies in Uncle Sam wanted revenge for the New York atrocity.
    And ever since then at some point of another we have been under attack, he decided
    to prance around becoming the worlds police and we have suffered because of that.
    We cannot even talk about Islam in this country, which he opened the gates to,
    we fear them and try to tolerate those who are utterly intolerant to us.
    And lest we forget the many brave English soldiers who have lost their lives
    directly because of Blair, so we shall not take lectures from him.

    • Keith D

      We do not fear them Kitty.
      We despise their evil but are criminalised for telling the truth about their vile religion.
      Blair, as always, is lying.
      He knows, as much as anyone else, that the problem is not some perverted version of Islam, but Islam, pure and simple.
      But of course, having betrayed us by importing millions of its slaves, he cant admit that.

      There will be no peace in the world until it is destroyed.

      • Shazza

        Absolutely spot on Keith. There is only one version of Islam – that is why those savages who murdered Lee Rigby reacted so viciously to the judge who voiced his opinion that they had behaved contrary to their religion. They were obeying their instruction manual hence their rage at being accused of not being good moslems.

        I would argue that it is not the extremists that present the biggest challenge, that can be dealt with by brute force if need be. People like that only respect force – appeasement, the policy we are now following, only attracts their scorn.

        It is the size of the demographic that is now present within our western civilisations which poses the bigger problem. The example of the Trojan Horse in our schools is the perfect example of the islamisation of the UK via the salami slicing method, not advocating violence but enforcing islamic practices. Eventually this will lead to full blown sharia – the same result as the extremists but without the violence. Polls have shown that the majority of the ‘moderate’ moslems want full sharia in this country. We will be defeated by our own democratic processes – they will use their increasing vote share to achieve this.

        Islam is only doing what it says on the tin.

    • Pootles

      You mean British soldiers, of course. Plus Fijians and Nepalese. But no Blairs.

      • Kitty MLB

        Apologies, all soldiers regardless of where they come from.

  • Jez

    Your immigration policies brought a vast amount of new comers to this country Tony, that are now prime real estate for Islamist subversion.

    In relation to Libya with the tried and tested regime change thing; ‘They responded well’?

    30,000 plus dead to tear the country apart? That’s ‘not responding well’- unless you’re the grim reaper that is.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Blah blah Blair.

    Re !$lam. There seems to be a simple solution to claims and counterclaims about the ‘true’ nature of it. Blair, or better still one of his ‘moderate’ theologically minded chums, simply have to show believers and non-believers alike that there are sufficient moderate and peaceful later verses in the K0ran and examples from the Hadith that abrogate the unequivocally violent and intolerant ones.

    A simple and consistent repetition of these messages from authoritative sources would settle the matter.

    Should, of course, any/enough exist.

  • Ricky Strong

    We are not even allowed to have an honest and open debate about Islam in this country, so how on earth are we expected to tackle it in the middle east? We have radical preachers on our streets preaching vile hatred who are untouchable – Anjem was recently praising those in Pakistan who had been burning Christian homes to the ground.

    This is your mess Tony, you clean it up. Perhaps with the blood of your own children this time round.

  • H Smith

    So many people dying in the middle east because of this guys radical ideas to make money and protect himself and business

  • Guest

    So many innocent people dying in the middle east because of this guys radical ideas

  • MaxSceptic

    “We have to take sides.” Of course we do — our side.

    “We have to commit” — to protecting ourselves and our own interests.

    “We have to engage” — let’s limit that to trade.

    Regarding the use of UK Military forces:
    MaxSceptic’s first rule: The wholeME is not worth the bones of one British grenadier.
    MaxSceptic’s second rule: No boots on the ground.

    MaxSceptic’s third rule: if force is used, it should be truly outrageously, obliterating, and annihilating in magnitude. Proportionality is for lawyers.

    At lease Blair does see that there is a clash of civilisations….

    • sfin

      Well said!

      There is a historical precedent for our western, democratic way of life facing a threat from a fanatical enemy whose protagonists were prepared to die for their cause – Japan circa 1945.

      I always said that 9/11 required a nuclear response. Less blood, far less treasure and an instant result.

      • Tony_E

        In 1941/2, when Japan attacked the USA, for the security of the nation a great number of Americans with Japanese heritage were interned in camps.

        To follow your analogy in comparing the fanaticism of Islamic militants and the Japanese imperialists, would you therefore advocate the same response in the UK?

        How can you ever tell who your real enemy is?

        • Keith D

          I think that is going to be most difficult thing that all of Europe must address once the majority actually realise its not migration, but invasion.

          Theres already ghettoisation writ large so the lines will be clearer than we think. I’ve studied this issue since 2001 and I hope I’m wrong, but am convinced we’ll see civil war in Europe in my lifetime.

          • allymax bruce

            That’s what the whole EU ‘thesis antithesis’ project was about; Bliar is only spouting the Zionist project to its next level, of ‘warfare’.

        • sfin

          Ah! But I did not mention the build up to the final act and the expenditure of vast amount of blood and treasure that it entailed. The US government of the time were faced with the prospect of invading the Japanese mainland – ‘boots on the ground’ after a long, bloody and costly campaign in the Pacific – not to mention the undermining of it’s own free democracy with, as you rightly point out, the internment of US citizens of Japanese origin.
          They chose the wiser and more expedient path.
          If you carry the big stick – sometimes you have to be prepared to use it.

      • gordin

        I agree, the biggest culprit is Saudi Arabia, they gift to terror is $

    • Adam Carter

      3 very good rules.
      I fear this problem will not go away until Rule 3 is invoked.