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Tony Blair: West 'needs global terror strategy'

Tony Blair has warned that terrorism motivated by religious extremism is growing and the West needs a global strategy to tackle it.

The former prime minister writes in The Observer that the battles of the 21st century will no longer be about extreme political ideology like the last.

Alongside security measures, including military action, the West must tackle conflicts by educating people about religious tolerance, he added.

"The fact is that, though of course there are individual grievances or reasons for the violence in each country, there is one thing self-evidently in common: the acts of terrorism are perpetrated by people motivated by an abuse of religion.

"It is a perversion of faith. But there is no doubt that those who commit the violence often do so by reference to their faith and the sectarian nature of the conflict is a sectarianism based on religion.

"There is no doubt either that this phenomenon is growing, not abating."

He said recent terror attacks and violence, including those in Syria, Libya and Iraq as well as Nigeria, Russia, and Asia, cannot be viewed as separate acts of killing but need a global strategy.

The challenge could "define the nature of peace and conflict".

"The battles of this century are less likely to be the product of extreme political ideology - like those of the 20th century - but they could easily be fought around the questions of cultural or religious difference," he added.

"The answer is to promote views that are open-minded and tolerant towards those who are different, and to fight the formal, informal and internet propagation of close-minded intolerance. In the 21st century, education is a security issue."

He announced the creation of a new online forum and database run by his Faith Foundation in collaboration with the Harvard Divinity School, which he hopes will become the world's leading source of information and debate about religion and conflict.

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