UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said access to an education is needed to counter dangerous religious narratives spreading across the Middle East.
"Education is a security issue and not any education but education specifically that opens young minds to 'the other,' those who are culturally and religiously different," he told members of the United Nations.
Blair said education in diversity would counter a narrative spread by terrorists that conflicts are anchored in an us-versus-them mentality.
"There is little disagreement now about the nature of this scourge [terrorism]," he said in remarks published Thursday. "It is extremism based on a perversion of religious belief, a fanaticism that abuses faith to justify violence against innocent civilians,"
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made similar comments earlier this week. He said many of the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 were started because the nation's youth were hungry for a chance at success.
"Those kids in [Cairo], they were not motivated by any religion or ideology," he said.
Blair was speaking as director of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, a policy center that aims to prevent religious prejudice.