UK

Tony Blair Says Extremist Religion Is A Growing Problem

26/01/2014 11:36 GMT | Updated 26/01/2014 11:59 GMT
Sean Dempsey/PA Wire
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is interviewed by political journalist John Rentoul to mark the one-hundredth Mile End group at Queen Mary University of London.

Religious extremism will cause wars in the future unless the world tackles the problem, Tony Blair has claimed.

The former Prime Minister wrote in The Observer that the battles of the 21st century will no longer be about extreme political ideology like the last.

The answer, he said, was to educate people about religious tolerance.

"The fact is that, though of course there are individual grievances or reasons for the violence in each country, there is one thing self-evidently in common: the acts of terrorism are perpetrated by people motivated by an abuse of religion.

"It is a perversion of faith. But there is no doubt that those who commit the violence often do so by reference to their faith and the sectarian nature of the conflict is a sectarianism based on religion.

"There is no doubt either that this phenomenon is growing, not abating."

He said recent terror attacks and violence, including those in Syria, Libya and Iraq as well as Nigeria, Russia, and Asia, cannot be viewed as separate acts of killing but need a global strategy.

The challenge could "define the nature of peace and conflict".

"The battles of this century are less likely to be the product of extreme political ideology - like those of the 20th century - but they could easily be fought around the questions of cultural or religious difference," he added.

"The answer is to promote views that are open-minded and tolerant towards those who are different, and to fight the formal, informal and internet propagation of close-minded intolerance. In the 21st century, education is a security issue."

He announced the creation of a new online forum and database run by his Faith Foundation in collaboration with the

Harvard Divinity School, which he hopes will become the world's leading source of information and debate about religion and conflict.