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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Some questions for Tony Blair on why the Middle East matters


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

What is Islam's true message?

"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."

What would happen if the West remained neutral?

"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."

In my view the distinction between politics and religion is a distinction without a difference. If not, what is religious and what is political and where is the line drawn?

"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."

Blair implies that the "modern view" is the only correct one. Why would he complain of the other side thinking that their view is the only correct one too?

"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 my view the distinction between politics and religion is a distinction without a difference. If not, what is religious and what is political and where is the line drawn?

"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. "

What is "the proper teaching of the Koran"?

"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."

What does he mean by being "religiously intolerant"?

"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."

What "interpretations of Christianity" he is referring to? Was he referring to the IRA?

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2004/10/30/bin-laden-claims-responsibility-for-11/

"Your security is not in the hands of Kerry, Bush or Al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands," bin Laden said, referring to the president and his Democratic opponent. "Any state that does not mess with our security, has naturally guaranteed its own security."

Admitting for the first time that he ordered the Sept. 11 attacks, bin Laden said he did so because of injustices against the Lebanese and Palestinians by Israel and the United States.

To what extent has the West addressed this grievance since 2001? 

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