July 02, 2007

Tony Blair lets his guard down

And finally has a chance to speak his mind after 10 years as Prime Minister:

'The idea that as a Muslim in this country that you don't have the freedom to express your religion or your views, I mean you've got far more freedom in this country than you do in most Muslim countries,' Blair told Observer columnist Will Hutton, who presents the documentary.

'The reason we are finding it hard to win this battle is that we're not actually fighting it properly. We're not actually standing up to these people and saying, "It's not just your methods that are wrong, your ideas are absurd. Nobody is oppressing you. Your sense of grievance isn't justified."'

Blair held out the example of the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan - criticised by Islamists as an example of the heavy-handed imperial West oppressing Muslims - to highlight unfounded claims of grievance. He asked how it is possible to claim that Afghanistan's Muslims are being oppressed when the Taliban 'used to execute teachers for teaching girls in schools'.

Blair added: 'How are [we] oppressing them? You're oppressing them when you support the people who are trying to blow them up.'

Blair, who normally chooses his language carefully when he talks about Islamists, also takes a swipe at critics who accused him of undermining civil liberties. 'When I'm trying to change the law in order to make it easier to deport people who engage in terrorism - the idea that that's an assault on hundreds of years of British civil liberties is completely absurd. Some of what is written on this is loopy-loo in its extremism.'

Honestly, I have been waiting for this since Tony and Cherie walked out of 10 Downing Street. You know there has to be a LOT boiling beneath that calm exterior.

I look forward to more of what Tony has to say. Glad to hear he's not going quietly into his next assignment as mideast envoy.

h/t Martin at MVRWC

Posted by caltechgirl at July 2, 2007 05:20 PM | TrackBack