Tony Blair in call to condemn Islam film protests

 

Tony Blair today urged politicians and religious leaders to condemn protests sweeping the Muslim world over a low-budget movie mocking Islam.

The former prime minister dismissed the American-made film as "laughable" and insisted the response was "wrong".

Mr Blair, who famously did not "do God" while in Downing Street, said public figures had to confront the issues and speak out for more tolerance.

The call, in an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, came with no end in sight to the deadly violence.

Religious figures have demanded a stepping up of demonstrations in Lebanon, while one person was reportedly killed during clashes with police in Pakistan over the weekend.

Mr Blair, now Middle East envoy for the Quartet of powers, said: "The film, it may be wrong and offensive but it is also laughable as a piece of film-making.

"What I am afraid is very dangerous and actually is wrong is the reaction to it."

Mr Blair said such problems were an inevitable consequence of the Arab Spring that has overthrown repressive regimes in Libya and elsewhere.

"I just see a region that is in the process of huge transition. There is essentially a struggle between the forces of modernisation, who want an open society, a properly functioning economy, who recognise the 21st century is the 21st century, and then those of reaction based on a perverted view of religion, that want to pull the whole thing backwards," he said.

"When you lift the lid off the repression what comes out are a whole lot of religious, ethnic, tribal influences that themselves have to be countered and moulded into something that is compatible with the modern world."

Mr Blair said he had changed his view since his time in Number 10, when he used to avoid discussions about faith.

"What the politicians often want to do - for totally understandable reasons, I used to feel this myself - is religion is such a tricky subject for us that we want to stay away from it," he said.

"But one element of resolving this is about a view of religion that is also open-minded and pluralistic.

"And what you actually require for democracy to function properly is a view of democracy in which religion has its place but where you have democracy-friendly religion as well as religion-friendly democracy."

He added: "In the end we need both the leadership within those countries and within Islam to stand up and say 'look, there is a proper modern way of reconciling religious faith, democracy in society', and we need ourselves from the outside to engage with this process of change in a way that's constructive."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower