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Blair: Use education to combat terrorism

November 21, 2013

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says the solution to terrorism will require a major commitment to education so extremists can’t exploit the ignorance and frustrations of jobless youth.

“The challenge of extremism based on a wrong and perverted view of religion is huge, dangerous and urgent. It is time to mobilize,” Blair said. He spoke Thursday as head of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which provides practical support to prevent religious prejudice, conflict and extremism.

Blair told the U.N. Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate: “The soil in which they plant the seeds of hate is the soil of ignorance, of warped thinking producing warped minds and in particular of a distorted and false view of religion.”

He added: “We most frequently link this to extreme views found in those who claim to follow Islam, but in truth there are also extremist acts perpetrated against Muslims because of their faith, and all the major religions today have fanatical elements that disfigure the true nature of their faith, Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, too.”

Blair noted that his foundation’s Face to Faith schools program emphasizes that religion taught in the classroom be inclusive and mindful of the beliefs of all students.

“It is my view that there must be real emphasis on reforming education systems to incorporate cultural openness,” he said.

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