West doesn’t cause terrorism: Tony Blair

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-6-19 18:33:01

Tony Blair

Editor's Note:

After the September 11 attacks, many scholars have pondered the relationship between terrorism and religion. The world is facing a threat of extremism permeating over regions like the Middle East, Far East and China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. How does terrorist threat affect the regional security? How should the international community deal with it? Global Times (GT) reporter Yu Jincui talked to Tony Blair (Blair), former UK prime minister, and founder of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, over these issues.

GT: Some observers say it's the invasion of Iraq that has led to the widespread of Al Qaeda radicals who use terror to secure their goals. Following the Syria and Libya wars, there is also an increasing opposition against interventionism. Do you agree that Western intervention fuels radical Islam?

People have to understand that 9/11 is what put the West in a difficult position. 9/11 was an attack on the US from Al Qaeda before Afghanistan, before Iraq, before anything.

We haven't invented this problem. I think one of the big mistakes in the way of dealing with the problem is thinking that we cause it. We don't cause it.

In Libya, yes the West intervened. We removed the regime. Now Libya is in a mess. But it's not in a mess because we removed the regime. It's because the Islam problem gets transferred to Libyan politics. There is a similar problem as well in Egypt.

What we have to understand is the root cause of this is bad education around religion. It is teaching young people a view of society, politics and culture which says if you are not like me, you are my enemy.

The way we should work today is that people respond to each other and open to each other across the culture and faith divide.

GT: How should we deal with Islamic extremism?

China, Russia and the West should get to understand that we all have a common interest in ensuring the Islam is dealt with. Russia will get big problem. As you see in Xinjiang where terrorist attacks are happening, China also has this problem today. If you go down to Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, there are problems there. This is not just about the Middle East, but is a far bigger picture.

Extremism has been taught, financed, and promoted, and it's particularly dangerous in the education system when young people are taught very simplistic and often extreme view of religion. This is what causes the problem, so my view is we should cooperate.

GT: China has suffered a series of terrorist attacks this year, but some Western scholars, media and even governments are reluctant to acknowledge that there is terrorism happening in Xinjiang. How do you view this?

In all countries you have some social, cultural, historical and traditional issues in problems. But what is happening in these attacks in China is Islamic extremism, the same problem we face in Britain and in the Middle East.

We are not going to defeat this unless we understand there is a common cause and we are not the reason why this is happening. Some say that the terrorism is happening in China because of what the Chinese government is doing. That's not the reason. 

Whether it is in Britain, China and the Middle East, there would be social problems and issues. But when you inject extremism in your society, that's when you get the problem.

GT: Does the West hold double standards on China's anti-terror efforts? Are there any differences between the anti-terror efforts of the West and those of China?

In this regard, yes, there are double standards. We should recognize that China is facing the same problem as we are facing.

Then we should combine together to defeat it. You have to defeat it not only by security measures, but also by education, because education today is a security issue.

There are no differences between Western anti-terror efforts and China's. We are all dealing with the same issue, and we try to deal with it in the same way.

China is trying to deal with the problem through security measures, education, and providing development, that's also what we are trying to do.

The problem is that there is a very bad thinking in the world today which tries to suggest that the extremism has been caused by us. That's the big mistake, it's not caused by us. What the extremists do is they take the grievances that the people have and use these grievances. We should unite together to defeat it. 

Wang Wenwen contributed to this story.

Posted in: Dialogue, Commentary

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