On May 24th, 2016, through the efforts of the Centre on Religion and Geopolitics (CRG) and the Prospect Magazine, a dynamic discussion took place, addressing effective counter-radicalization techniques and practices. Former Prime Minister of England, Tony Blair, who has been focusing his time and efforts on the Middle East and Africa, was the key participant of the conversation. Since leaving his political office, Blair has launched the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, with the mission to “provide practical support to counter religious conflict and extremism in order to promote open-minded and stable societies.”
CRG provides key understanding of the interconnectedness between states and religion, through reports, media commentary, events and policy briefings. Not only does the CRG inform of the often-dangerous links between radical ideologies and conflict, it also offers policy responses to such complex challenges.
In the discussion, Blair reviewed the key issues revolving around the topic of extremism and emphasized the importance of identifying the root causes of extremism before coming up with methods of reversal. He also posited that since all of us are one way or another affected by terrorism, the response of countering and preventing radicalization calls for inclusivity and participation of various members of the society – “This is not someone else’s fight, it is our fight as well.”
Blair, relying on his political expertise, commented on the unstable political nature of the Middle East and how such instability, in a demographically rather young region, presents only two options to its youth – extremism or the oppressive status-quo. Blair, along with his foundation, aims to provide a third option, which would fulfill a vacuum created by political insecurity.
Club de Madrid´s 10 Goals highlighted in its Global Consensus are necessary benchmarks for a comprehensive response to violent extremism. Similar to Blair’s, the Global Consensus, is also a long term action plan, which requires participation of political and religious leaders, civil societies, individuals and etc. The Consensus calls for a persistent international effort, because everyone is involved in the fight against extremism.
Dialogues such as this one are a vital step in fostering the debate about extremism as well as brainstorming innovative ways to fight an ideological force that recognizes no borders, no rules and has no mercy. Thus the only way to win the fight, as Blair and the CRG propose, “is through pluralism and open-minded attitude towards others.”