Blair: ‘Perversion of Islam’ behind Middle East problems

The “perversion of Islam is the source of a lot of the problems in the Middle East,” and more than force is needed to tackle extremism, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday.

Blair spoke to CNN after Tuesday’s release of the report “Inside the Jihadi Mind.”

The Centre on Religion and Geopolitics — an initiative of Blair’s Tony Blair Faith Foundation — analyzed propaganda from ISIS, al Qaeda and al-Nusra Front over two years for the report.

It found the Salafi-jihadist groups shared nearly identical ideologies and said challenging their interpretation of Islam was critical to defeating them.

“There’s no point in just tackling the violence unless you tackle the ideology of extremism behind the violence,” Blair said.

“You’ve got these broad ideological strands that lie behind a lot of this extremism. If you take, for example, some of the organizations in the Middle East, some of those clerics that are putting out the most extreme stuff — they’ll have Twitter followings that go into millions of people.