As world leaders spin their wheels on what to do about religious extremism, more and more public figures are voicing their own personal strategy opinions. Among them is former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, who on Monday outlined on his website a seven-point strategy for countering religious extremism — despite being roundly criticized for joining America's controversial invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In his treatise, titled "The Way Ahead," Blair first emphatically denounces "radical Islamism," defining the problem as "deep" and "the work of a generation not an election cycle." He also repeatedly emphasizes the need for a broad coalition against such extremism, lauding U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for "putting together a formidable array of allies" and making clear that "this is 'our' challenge and not simply 'theirs.'"
Blair is careful to draw a distinction between the radical Islamism of which he speaks and of the religion Islam, which he says focuses on "compassion and mercy." This ties into what he calls the "spectrum" of Islam — and he defines the crux of the issue as such:
The problem is that we're facing a spectrum of opinion based on a world view which stretches far further into parts of Muslim society. At the furthest end is the fringe. But at the other end are those who may completely oppose some of the things the fringe does and who would never themselves dream of committing acts of violence, but who unfortunately share certain elements of the fanatic's world view. ... This Islamism — a politicisation of religion to an intense and all-encompassing degree — is not confined to a fringe. It is an ideology… taught and preached every day to millions, actually to tens of millions, in some mosques, certain madrases, and in formal and informal education systems the world over. [Tony Blair Faith Foundation]
Read Blair's full essay at his website.