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Tony Blair calls to empower moderate Islam

British Prime Minister calls for a radical rethink of global approach to tackling extremism.

india Updated: Aug 02, 2006 10:25 IST

Calling for a radical rethink of global approach to tackling extremism, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that moderate and mainstream Islam should be empowered to defeat reactionary Islam, among other places in Jammu and Kashmir.

Delivering a keynote address to the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, Blair said, "Whatever the outward manifestation at any one time -- in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Iraq and add to that in Afghanistan, in Jammu and Kashmir, in a host of other nations including now some in Africa -- it is a global fight about global values; it is about modernization, within Islam and outside of it; it is about whether our value system can be shown to be sufficiently robust, true, principled and appeal that it beats theirs."

"Islamist extremism's whole strategy is based on a presumed sense of grievance that can motivate people to divide against each other. Our answer has to be a set of values strong enough to unite people with each other," he added.

Blair, who is on a five-day visit to the US, told the 2,000-strong audience, "We have to empower moderate, mainstream Islam to defeat reactionary Islam."

Noting that he planned the basis of his speech several weeks ago, Blair said the crisis in the Lebanon has not changed its thesis. "It has brought it into sharp relief."

"The purpose of the provocation that began the conflict was clear -- it was to create chaos, division and bloodshed to provoke retaliation by Israel that would lead to Arab and Muslim opinion being inflamed not against those who started the aggression but against those who responded to it," he said.