The violent reaction to an anti-Islamic film has been "absurd", Tony Blair has said.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday morning, the former prime minister said no one should take the film, Innocence of Muslims, seriously. "It's a laughable piece of film work," he said.
"The good news there is plenty of people who agree this reaction is absurd," Blair, who serves as a Middle East peace envoy, said.
Demonstrations have been held outside Western embassies across the Middle East and North Africa in reaction to the film.
“I think what we shouldn’t do is lose sight of what the real issue is, and the real issue is how do people actually think it is justified to react in a way that ends up in innocent people being killed," Blair said.
“So no, this is a profound problem; it’s a problem, as I say, which is about the struggle of modernisation. The good news is, in the end, the modernisers will win incidentally, but it will take a long time to do."
He added: "The good news, by the way is that there are plenty of people within these countries, and within these societies who agree entirely that this reaction is absurd and that they need to change and allow their countries to develop in a proper way.”
In the most violent of incidents the US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other American staff were killed after demonstrators stormed the embassy.
On Monday Sheikh Nasralla, the leader of Hezbollah, called for fresh protests in Lebanon against the film, branding it one of the worst insults against Islam ever.
"Those who should be held accountable, punished, prosecuted and boycotted are those directly responsible for this film and those who stand behind them and those who support and protect them, primarily the United States of America," he said.
Blair also told the BBC that the West should start to "ratchet up the pressure" on the regime of Bashar al-Assad as the civil war in Syria raged on.
"I know people say inevitably he will go; I don’t think it is inevitable," he said. "Actually, unless we are prepared to make it clear that our support and solidarity for those people who are struggling against what is a very, very brutal repression now, that that support will continue."Suggest a correction