Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, wrote a questionable column in the Daily Mail claiming that "there is a problem within Islam,” and that the religion should be considered by British and world officials as "profound and dangerous."
Blair argued that Islam, like all religions, has its extremists. However, because of the magnitude of extremists (which is partially due to the magnitude of the religion), Islam is problematic and a threat to “open-minded” nations everywhere.
"There is a problem within Islam – from the adherents of an ideology which is a strain within Islam," Blair wrote. "We have to put it on the table and be honest about it. Of course there are Christian extremists and Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu ones. But I am afraid this strain is not the province of a few extremists. It has at its heart a view about religion and about the interaction between religion and politics that is not compatible with pluralistic, liberal, open-minded societies."
Blair’s comments stem from the recent Woolwich terror attack in England. Two weeks ago, two extremists were walking in London’s Woolwich neighborhood when they bludgeoned to death a British soldier named Lee Rigby.
The two suspects, Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, then walked around the streets and demanded people film and photograph them with bloodied hands. In the videos, the two claim that they are attacking British soldiers because Muslims are dying every day at the hands of the British.
“It's an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, by our law. We swear we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone,” one of the suspects said in a video immediately after the attack.
Blair, then, used this incident to claim that Islam encourages these views and should be watched carefully.
Islamic leaders in Britain have rightly criticized Blair’s overly simplistic and Islamophobic column, explaining that the “heart” of Islam does not at all support terrorism.
Current Prime Minister David Cameron, luckily, has a more informed worldview and can more capably separate Islam from Islamic extremists.
"There is nothing in Islam that justifies acts of terror and I welcome too the spontaneous condemnation of this attack from mosques and Muslim community organisations right across our country," Cameron said in a statement. "We will not be cowed by terror, and terrorists who seek to divide us will only make us stronger and more united in our resolve to defeat them."
Correction: The original article, published June 3, 2013, incorrectly wrote the quote in the headline: "Tony Blair: 'There is a Problem With Islam.'" The quote has been corrected in the headline and now reads: 'Tony Blair: 'There is a Problem Within Islam.'"