Tony Blair speaks out about Islam, but fails to go far enough

Former British PM Tony Blair is one of few world leaders to speak out against Islamic extremism, but he needed to go further. Photo: Former British PM Tony Blair Photo: AP

CHARLOTTEJune 9 2013 – The good news is that a recognized world leader has finally spoken out against Islamic extremism. The bad news is that he did not go far enough.

In the aftermath of the recent London beheading and a report that the United Kingdom is destined to become an Islamic nation within 20 years, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that while there are radical activists in other religions, the Islamic strain “is not the province of a few extremists.”

SEE RELATED: Is Sharia law infringing upon our American rights?

A bold statement considering most other politicians shy away from the subject.

While Blair’s comments may have opened the door for greater public debate, he followed his pronouncement by backtracking with a standard clarification of his meaning.

In an article in the Mail Blair wrote, “There is not a problem with Islam. For those of us who have studied it, there is no doubt about its true and peaceful nature. There is not a problem with Muslims in general. Most in Britain will be horrified at Lee Rigby’s murder. But there is a problem within Islam, from the adherents of an ideology that is a strain within Islam. And we have to put it on the table and be honest about it.”

Blair now serves as envoy to the Middle East on behalf of what is known as the “Quartet” (the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia). Though he may have studied Islam, unfortunately Mr. Blair is not being “honest about it” when he states “there is no doubt about its true and peaceful nature.”

SEE RELATED: Radical Islam does not exist: Islam is the enemy

The term “Islamophobia” has made its way into mainstream dialogue, but it is a word that is difficult to define. As with “racism”, perception is frequently based upon political ideology without addressing the true nature of the question.

In a era when parsing words has become the national pastime, getting to the “truth” of anything is a major hurdle because we are no longer able to get honest answers about anything.

If “truth” is the primary qualifier to what determines Islamophobia and what does not, then it seems to be a simple question to answer. The trouble comes when officials like Mr. Blair add a qualifier whenever they do speak up. That alone should be enough to define the impact of Islamophobia.

It is a fact that Lee Rigby was beheaded in the streets of London. It is a fact that Muslims crowd certain areas of London and Paris to observe jummah prayers each Friday. It is a fact that two brothers set off bombs in Boston during the annual marathon. Is that Islamophobia?

In March 2011, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) introduced something called Resolution 16/18 which was initially greeted as a victory for free speech by Western countries. At first glance the resolution seemed to propose a departure from suppressing critical speech against any religion to fighting discrimination and violence against individuals based upon their religious beliefs.

That is the way it was interpreted by the West. However, as pointed out in this column on June 3, nothing is ever the way it appears when negotiating in the Islamic world. Everything is always slightly off-center. Once again the West was snookered by an OIC proposal.

What the OIC was really presenting was a long term goal to protect Islam, and only Islam, from defamatory speech and to criminalize any speech that put Islam and Muslims in a negative light. In other words, it was a strategic move by the OIC to institute global blasphemy laws that was written in way that made it seem agreeable to the West and open for interpretation.

Awareness of the dangers of Resolution 16/18 is growing, however. The U.N. Human Rights Council recently adopted a new Resolution A/HRC/22L 40 which keeps the same title as Resolution 16/18 with some alarmingly dangerous new elements.

One example is the assertion that “terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.” While that seems harmless enough, it creates a significant problem since the overwhelming majority of terrorist activity is carried out by Islamic extremists.

Is it Islamophobia to point that out or is it simply the truth? Everyone knows the answer. Even Tony Blair. Yet, we persist in either being politically correct or failing to speak out in fear of the consequences while all the while hoping the problem will disappear.

Islam has been around for 14 centuries. It is not going to disappear.

Muslims who pray in the streets of London and Paris claim they must do so because the mosques are too small to accommodate believers. Forget the fact that observers report increasing numbers of cars parked in those districts on Fridays so that outsiders can participate n the ritual. Once again a disingenuous distortion of truth.

Islamic terrorism exists. It is a fact of contemporary life. Denying it will not change it, and calling it Islamophobia is not facing reality.

At least Tony Blair had the courage to speak out a little. Now he, and other world leaders must step up and become even more outspoken. 

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Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in CharlotteNCTaylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( which offers tours and travel information for people who share his wanderlust spirit.  

Inquiries for groups can be made at Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others.

As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 71 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.

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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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