Tony Blair on Islam: News Roundup

In the news this week: Tony Blair voices concern about Islam, a Florida courthouse soon to be home of nation's first atheism monument, and other news stories.

In a column for the Daily Mail, former British prime minister Tony Blair stated "there is a problem within Islam" and implored officials to acknowledge radical ideology is "profound and dangerous."

The piece regarding the Woolwich terror attack, which resulted in the death of soldier Lee Rigby, also urged governments to "be honest" about the problem radical deology poses.

"There is a problem within Islam – from the adherents of an ideology which is a strain within Islam," he wrote. "We have to put it on the table and be honest about it. Of course there are Christian extremists and Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu ones. But I am afraid this strain is not the province of a few extremists. It has at its heart a view about religion and about the interaction between religion and politics that is not compatible with pluralistic, liberal, open-minded societies."  Huffington Post

After years of fights over religious monuments on public land, a county courthouse in Northern Florida will soon be the home of the nation’s first monument to atheism on public property.

On June 29, the group American Atheists will unveil a 1,500-pound granite bench engraved with secular-themed quotations from Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and its founder, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, among others, in front of the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke, Fla.

The New-Jersey-based group, which has a membership of about 4,000 atheists, humanists and other non-believers, won the right to erect the monument in a settlement reached in March over a six-ton granite display of the Ten Commandments on the same property.  The State

A Texas man who threatened to blow up the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in Tennessee apologized to the imam and mosque leaders Monday, then pleaded guilty to a federal charge.

"I've been around with all types of people, and have all types of friends," Javier Alan Correa read Monday in federal court in Nashville. "I also understand not all Muslims are terrorists. I was just ignorant at that time, plus I had been drinking alcohol so I wasn't thinking very clearly which is why I made a very poor choice in calling. Sir, after making that phone call I felt really bad and guilty. I really felt awful and I knew what I did was wrong. I'm sorry for that."  USA Today

In the UK, the Fair Admissions Campaign wants to ban state schools in England and Wales from selecting pupils on faith grounds. The new group says religion-based admission policies can fuel segregation and cause "distrust and disharmony".

A spokeswoman for the Catholic Education Service rejected "the unfounded claim that Catholic schools are socially divisive". The group which includes the British Humanist Association (BHA), the Accord Coalition and the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education warns that a faith-based admissions system can have a damaging effect on communities.

No other public service, such as hospitals, would be allowed to restrict access on religious grounds, say the campaigners, who argue that faith-based selection is "fundamentally wrong".  BBC