Arab world has long way to go - Blair

2012-09-17 16:28

London - Former British prime minister Tony Blair on Monday warned that violent demonstrations over an American anti-Islam film show that some in the Arab world are still a generation from modernisation.

The former premier, now a Middle East envoy, dismissed the film as "laughable" but called the response of extremists "very wrong".

"The film, it may be wrong and offensive, but it's also laughable as a piece of film-making," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"The problem with this is that you have a small number of real extremists, the people who engage in violence, but the narrative goes far deeper, which is why this is a big problem and will take a generation to sort out," he argued.

"There is essentially a struggle between the forces of modernisation, who want an open society, a properly functioning economy ... and then these very powerful forces of reaction, based on a perverted view of reaction, that want to pull the whole thing backwards."

Outbreaks of violence

Protests on Monday turned violent for the first time in Afghanistan and Indonesia as hundreds of angry men clashed with police, hurling stones and shouting "Death to America".

The outbreaks of violence were the latest over the low-budget trailer made in the United States and aired on YouTube that has fanned unrest around the world, leaving at least 18 people dead.

Blair, who was prime minister from 1997 to 2007, called the violence unjustified and said the West needed to educate newly-democratic countries in the Middle East about the importance of religious tolerance, fair treatment of minorities and an open economy.

"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," he added.

  • fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-17 16:50

    When the so-called West reach for renaissance and science in the 1700's, the Islamic world recoiled and reached for greater religious zeal and chauvinism. Blair is right: it is going to take quite some time for it to make up the lost ground. It took humanity fifty years to determine that Communism was wrong. How long Islamic fundamentalism? A wonderful current wild-card is the Information Age. Every minute of every day a passionate engagement is taking place before hundreds of millions of people. New ideas emerge out of that, better, more enlightened ones.

      jaba.kov - 2012-09-18 08:21

      this is the way I see it… When the Jewish people were young (and stupid) they went around killing nations and violently shielding their religion... now 5 thousand years have past - they have matured and with time gained wisdom and humility. When the Christian religion was young (and stupid) they went around killing people from Crusades to religious conversations... now 2 thousand years later they have matured and gained wisdom & humbleness. Islam is the youngest of the 3 great religions young (and ###) – give it time.

  • Fidel - 2012-09-17 16:57

    You need to reform and improve your societies first. If your own democratic institutions were better, along with your prosperity, your personal and spiritual lives, then your example would be all that's required to guide the Arab world to freedom and democracy. But instead you have corrupt political institutions, huge gaps between rich and poor and people who are spiritually empty that they fill their lives with drugs or mindless TV entertainment. Blair and his type export barbarism and decadence (using bombs) all over the world and call it civilisation or modernisation!

      Madhi - 2012-09-17 20:51

      As usual gerhard warships his pinkness even when no one cares. I assume u are South African because u always spew the same stereotypical bs day and nite in the site. U mention 400 years that Africans were supposed to learn but accepted history says Africans were denied opportunity to learn anything. That's objective white historians say that and I believe them not u. Also, at ur age u should be smart enough to know culture and belief systems play a role on how people behave and that their culture is different from ours does not mean it is not better, it works for them it has always does before foreign intervention. Now I agree that u have lot's of good for nothings in government but dont make it an African problem because Botswana is working well and is African with similar beliefs. I would have expected someone like u to talk sense. As for your insult on islam, I will be decent than u and not respond, may be u might find it in ur heart one day to accept racial, religious, social and other forms of differences and not to reduce them into hate objects.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-18 01:41

      Mahdi, when you drop the chip on your shoulder you won't feel insulted so much, and you won't want to resort to violence so often.

      gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-09-18 08:08

      Fidel, strange that you espouse the need for reform in islamist societies. What about african society? That culture with the open hand. In 400 years Africa has learned very little despite all the support from the west. Even examples do not work. Any witchdoctor with a rabbit can take over a mine in a moments notice. Is it not then that the problem lies with african culture and its resistance to learning and education? Or am I missing it? There is no difference between the murderous miners at LonMin mine and the raving islamic lunatics (Allah is an arabian moongod) that attack embassies to kill innocent people. The perceived shackles of Africa are imaginary as long as there are ancestors, tokoloshes, witchdoctors, muti, cannibalism. The african way is to have an indaba. Afterwards you go home and then the problem is solved. So the real cause of Africa's problems is the vacuum of endemic inaction, procrastination or downright illwill of certain people in government that are only there to enrich themselves.

      jaba.kov - 2012-09-18 08:28

      Madhi – you described Botswana as a success story - did you know that Botswana & Namibia are one of the only African states that has strong economical and political ties to Israel... both nations hand in hand helping each other improve in the field of education, health, mining and wealth creation... what are your thoughts on that fact Madhi

      Madhi - 2012-09-18 15:55

      Jaba.kov, if Botswana and Namibia are successful because of their relationship with Israel well done to them. I believe people should have relationships with whoever they want including Israel, so I am not sure why are you dragging that here. I summise u believe that all muslims/arabs have a problem with Israel as a state or Israelis as a people. If that's ur view, then be corrected I don't have any issues at all with existence or relations of any country with Israel. Yes I disagree with the politics but so what? I disagree with South African politics too and I dont see myself as an outcast. For your information, I am an anarchist/anti system and I don't want friends so no popularity contest or flock mentality for me. Just focus on removing race or religion from social arguments, something blair has failed to do.

  • fort.horseman.7 - 2012-09-17 17:43

    I personally dnt give a damn wot u have to say Blair.Ur opinions hold as much water as a siff.and ur existence is a liability to the Arab world.pls rather go fly flishing.

  • Stewart Croucamp - 2012-09-17 17:49

    The video is very poorly made. I am not a muslim but I would never believe the rubbish portrayed in the video. It is like watching a bad porn film.

  • Stewart Croucamp - 2012-09-17 17:52

    I believe the Muslims are using this stupid video as an excuse to attack the west. It is time for the western world to fight back.

      jaba.kov - 2012-09-18 08:32

      I agree! Why is the Muslim community not violently protesting the killings of 26000 Muslims in Syria in just the last few months? Why are they protesting a Movie? Is film more important than life? Hypocrisy much

  • tshivhombelaf - 2012-09-17 17:52

    To where?

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-17 20:24

      To join the modern world. So do neo-Communist China and Russia.

  • mnmwale - 2012-09-17 18:13

    Thank you Mr. Blair for your wise words. This is the real truth which the Arab world needs to heed if it is to set itself free from intellectual primitivism which is underlined by itsreligious bigotry and senseless violence.

  • mnmwale - 2012-09-17 18:41

    Thank you Mr. Blair for your wise words to the Arab world. Thank you for the honesty that underlines them. Your words are the truth that the Arab world needs to hear and heed if it is to free itself from the intellectual darkness and primitivism that is underlined by its religious bigotry.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-17 20:24

      Well said. Thank YOU.

      Madhi - 2012-09-17 20:41

      Trust me Blair is the last man to give anyone any advice. Here is the man who decided to hide his Catholic beliefs because the English who not elect a Catholic Prime Minister. Now that's hypocrisy and the majority of Muslims cannot have respect for someone who is ashamed of his God. Now I will give u this, the Arab world and Muslim countries in general need to develop and grow their economies, however if u listen to blair u might think that there is a link between lack of growth and our religion. He knows that there is none. Proof? Malaysia is more developed than a number of European countries who are Christian and white, another? Turkey. He knows the problem there is politics which supress people as and the west has supported all the dictatorship u can dream of there, without the west none can survive. So don't allow to be misled by good english that means nothing. Blair took a job to develop West Bank and set it as an example for Gaza but he has failed completely on that. No one knows what he does as an Envoy other than talking crap here and there and have people like u and fred to beat ur chests u have listen to a wiseman. My cat is wiser than that.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-09-18 08:50

      One thing you'll get used to is that any and all problems are Isreal and the Wests making . Its a result of a culture where there is no self criticism , this would be the beginning of the end to religous monopoly of politics, social behavoiur , thought ,expression,art , literature ect as the inevitable eye of critical anaylsis would turn to the holy books. Something the religous can easily and readily do of other holy texts but a rational impossibility to apply to their own.

  • fort.horseman.7 - 2012-09-17 21:16

    Blair u have been dejected and condemned by Mr Mandela and Bishop Tutu.I dont know why you should be given a public platform to be making statements.

      jaba.kov - 2012-09-18 08:34

      Maybe you right on Tutu - but Madiba and Blair are still the best of friends!

  • fort.horseman.7 - 2012-09-17 21:17

    Blair u have been dejected and condemned by Mr Mandela and Bishop Tutu.I dont know why you should be given a public platform to be making statements.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-18 01:46


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