Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has warned that the West is not fully aware of how dangerous Islamic extremism is getting in the Middle East, and has questioned President Barack Obama's handling of Islamic relations.
''We must engage, but also challenge,'' Blair said in a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph. "The Middle East won't achieve democracy unless it understands that democracy is a way of thinking as well as voting. The key question is how the majority treats the minority.''
Addressing the religious conflicts currently gripping a host of African countries, stretching from Nigeria, Sudan, Mali, Tanzania and Kenya, where radical Islamists are waging war on Christians, Blair said that he thinks "the West is asleep on this issue," especially in regards to the mentality of the extremists. The former prime minister believes that extremists are deeply rooted in a belief that the West seeks to oppress Islam, making peace a very far off notion.
Blair, who also famously converted to Catholicism, also said that Obama's outreach to Islam "tends to deal with the wrong people." As evidence he pointed to Obama's speech in Cairo in 2009, and the subsequent revolution that took place in the country. The uprising has led to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose influence is being felt not only in Egypt but also in countries around the Arab world.
The politician shared that he thinks globalization has also played a part in creating a global security risk, as it brings different people closer together and creates a "dominant security threat" related to culture and religion.
The former British prime minister heads the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which aims to promote "respect and understanding about the world's major religions and show how faith is a powerful force for good in the modern world." He was also named by the United Nations as a representative of the Middle East diplomatic Quartet, meant to help find a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.