Britain’s Blair says moderate Muslims must do more to face down terrorists’ ideologies
LONDON – Britain cannot defeat terrorism unless moderate Muslims do more to confront militancy in their own communities, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday.Blair said the vast majority of Muslims abhorred terrorism and wanted to defeat it, but said they had to do more to counter what he described as the extremists’ misplaced anger and grievances.Moderates, he said, must “stand up against the ideas of these people, not just their methods.””If you want to defeat this extremism, you’ve got to defeat its ideas and you’ve got to defeat in part a completely false sense of grievance against the West,” said Blair, testifying before a House of Commons committee. “The government has its role to play in this, but honestly, the government itself is not going to defeat this.”Shortly after the July 7, 2005, attacks on London, Blair pledged that officials would work with Britain’s 1.5 million Muslims to fight the militant ideologies that are seducing a minority of young people like the four who carried out the attacks.Nearly a year later, he said the efforts needed to be intensified.”The roots of this extremism lie in attitudes and ideas as much as organization, and I don’t think there is an answer to this terrorism that is simply about police work or security,” he said.A series of police missteps have fueled resentment among many Muslims in recent months, making many feel that they have been unfairly targeted.On June 2, more than 200 police raided an east London home where they believed a chemical bomb was being manufactured and shot a suspect in the shoulder. He and his brother were arrested but later released without being charged.Blair said police were right to raid the home based on the intelligence they had. But he said police must do more to reach out to Muslims.Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadhan Foundation, an Islamic youth group engaged in fighting drug problems in northwest England, was highly critical of Blair’s comments, saying he had failed to speak to vast sections of the Muslim community.”He’s made no effort to engage with people outside his usual comfort zone of Labour Party members and the usual suspects from national organizations,” he said. “It makes us believe the government is not serious about engaging with communities on the ground, where terrorism can be fought and eradicated.”Blair also defended his government’s efforts to win assurances from nations with poor human rights records that they will not mistreat terrorism suspects and extremist preachers deported by Britain. Britain has been working for months to secure deportation agreements with several Middle Eastern and North African countries to return such suspects to their homelands.He said Britain should not send suspects to any country where it knows they will be tortured, but does not have to ensure absolutely that they will not be mistreated.”The idea that if I can’t prove absolutely that they are going to come to no harm, I have to keep them here – why?” he said, adding that terror suspects have themselves taken a risk by breaking the rules of British society.