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Blair insists “radical Islam” remains main global threat

24th Sep 2021
Blair insists “radical Islam” remains main global threat

Anti-Tony Blair protest – Chilcot Iraq Inquiry, London January 21, 2011 (Credit: Chris Beckett/Flickr Commons)


Hamed Chapman

Former disgraced Prime Minister Tony Blair used the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US to launch a renewed Islamophobic tirade about threats facing the West, arguing once again for democratic governments to use military force to defend and export their values.

“Islamism, both the ideology and the violence, is a first-order security threat; and, unchecked, it will come to us, even if centred far from us, as 9/11 demonstrated,” the former Labour leader said in a speech to the Royal United Services Institute to mark the anniversary.

“This ideology – whether Shia, promulgated by the Islamic Republic of Iran or Sunni promoted by groups on a spectrum from the Muslim Brotherhood through to Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram and many others – has been the principal cause of de-stabilisation across the Middle East, and beyond and today in Africa.

“Like Revolutionary Communism, it operates in many different arenas and dimensions; and like it, its defeat will come ultimately through confronting both the violence and the ideology, by a combination of hard and soft power,” he controversially argued.

Notoriously, Blair ignored overwhelming warnings from academics and peace campaigners to join US President George W Bush in invading Afghanistan in 2001 before being distracted and expanding their military target to Iraq two years later on what turned out to be false premises.

Whilst many have argued that the former premier should stand trial for war crimes, he said he found it deeply depressing to hear Western opinion claim “we are foolish in believing that Western notions of liberal democracy and freedom are exportable or will ever take root except in the somewhat decadent terrain of Western society.”

He called for leading powers, including China and Russia, to “unite to develop an agreed strategy” in the interest of “countering this ideology” and for Muslim allies, “including in the Middle East, desperate to re-take their religion from extremism”.

His speech came as the US, UK, and their allies were scurrying to evacuate Afghanistan after being rapidly recaptured by the Taliban and President Joe Biden suggesting that the end of the 20-year intervention in Afghanistan turns the page on an era of nation-building.

Seeking potential new battlegrounds, Blair signalled even moving further south to other Muslim countries. “Britain should work more closely with European countries on how best to develop the capacity to tackle the threat in areas such as Africa’s Sahel region,” he suggested.

The threat remained what he described as the “global movement of Radical Islam,” which contains many groups, including the Taliban, which “share the same basic ideology” which other so-called Islamists agree with but eschew violence.

“In simple terms, this holds that there is only one true faith, only one true view of that faith and that society, politics and culture should be governed only by that view.”

The picture the former Prime Minister painted was that “radical Islam believes not only in Islamism – the turning of the religion into a political doctrine – but also in the justification of struggle, if necessary armed struggle to achieve it.”

He even cited the Covid-19 pandemic, stating that it had taught “us about deadly pathogens,” and that “bio-terror possibilities may seem like the realm of science fiction, but we would be wise now to prepare for their potential use by non-State actors.”

Blair converted to Catholicism after stepping down from power, and yet as if to justify sending troops in, he suggested that although the natural preference was for boots to be local, it was not always possible, and “we need some ‘boots on the ground’.”

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

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