Force of ideas can defeat Islamic terror: Tony Blair

November 22nd, 2008 - 4:52 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 22 (IANS) The ultimate defeat of Islamic terrorism can come not from the force of arms but from the force of ideas, former British prime minister Tony Blair said here Saturday, stressing the role of education and faith.Be it hotspots like Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Palestine and many more, “in reality, there is one global movement based on a perversion of the proper faith of Islam”, he said while addressing the HT Leadership Summit on “Leadership in a Globalised World”.

“Its roots are deep. It has an ideology. As such, it must, naturally be subject to military means where it poses a military threat. But its ultimate defeat can only come, not through force of arms but force of ideas,” Blair maintained.

“Against its narrative of victimhood, exclusion and division must be set one of peaceful co-existence, universal values and common destiny,” he added.

This necessarily means that nations will have to work together in fields that aren’t traditional for international cooperation, Blair pointed out, adding: “Education is a vital area of policy for each nation. But when what is taught in our schools can influence so critically how a young person thinks about the world, it is also an area of international concern.”

There was also need to deepen understanding of each other’s culture because “if globalisation pushes us together, then religious difference must not pull us apart. If we have to live with each other, we have to learn about each other,” Blair contended.

At the same time, he noted that faith “unfortunately, can be divisive”, and added: “You know this here in India, better than any”.

Yet, Blair maintained, “faith also guides the lives of billions of people worldwide and leads them to acts of compassion, selflessness and decency.

“The point is that the present tensions within the faith world is only another dimension of the global community. Faith can be a force for progress, helping shape globalisation in a benign manner rather than be a force for reaction, provoking conflict.

“But only if I, of my faith, am prepared to be open to you, of your faith,” Blair maintained.

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