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Will the real extremists please stand up?

PADDY McGUFFIN takes a look at the week's top stories

If Jean-Paul Sartre was correct "hell is other people."

The veracity or otherwise of that statement of course depends on the circumstances. And who you're standing next to.

One thing's for certain - as far as our self-appointed moral leaders are concerned "extremists" are "that lot over there."

It is a curious but oft-repeated phenomenon that the more zealous and demented a proponent of one faith the more likely they are to find fanaticism in others.

If they spent more time reading their holy books than they did inveighing against anyone with a vaguely different interpretation of an improvable belief they might do better.

Yep, as we enter the mid-point of the second decade of the 21st century it is telling that the most self-aggrandising proselytisers and tub-thumping self-publicists are still at it.

Are we still having this argument? Really?

At a time when paedophiles and thugs professing to act in the name of God are being hauled in front of the biggest child abuse inquiry in history? Beating children half to death and subjecting them to appalling sexual and mental abuse is, I would argue, pretty much the definition of extremism.

And no it's not just the Catholic Church, so you can wipe those self-righteous, holier-than-thou expressions off your faces the rest of you. Kincora anybody?

The second certainty is that the last thing the world needs is another of Tony Blair's sermons on faith and morality.

This mass-murdering sociopath still seems to think that he has the right to lecture we lesser mortals on the realities of life as viewed through his own warped prism.

Here he was again, pontificating in the weekend rags that religious extremism causes wars.

Well, yours did, you smug git.

This is a creature who has made himself a multimillionaire by playing PR guru to torturers and despots around the world and yet he still uses a so-called opinion piece in the Observer to flagrantly advertise his new - no doubt money-spinning - venture and announce "an online forum and database" run by his Faith foundation.

That always make this column laugh.

This is a man whose faith famously has no foundation whatsoever, and who became a Catholic as a matter of convenience, lecturing the rest of us.

The only thing he believes in is his right to cash in on the misery of others.

Addressing the situation in the Middle East Blair speciously claimed: "All over the region and including in Iraq, where exactly the same kind of sectarianism threatens the right of the people to a democratic future, such a campaign" (for tolerance of other religious views) "has to be actively engaged."

Subtext... it's all the fault of those uppity Muslims, bomb Iran.


Also this week Blair gave us his less than humble opinion on the ongoing situation in Egypt.

He condemned the Muslim Brotherhood and came out, again, surprise surprise, in favour of the military dictatorship.

I know what you're thinking. Who would have imagined Blair would have favoured a military solution?

And speaking of such matters and home-grown extremism, this week also saw Parliament debate the Syrian refugee question.

With millions dispossessed and facing starvation due to the ongoing slaughter in the country Britain grudgingly announced that it would take a maximum of 500 asylum-seekers.

Talk about your token gestures...

But even this was too much for the knee-jerk bigots on the Tory back benches.

Now I'm not saying they DON'T have strongly held, sincere views on this issue... but seeing as they don't appear to have them on any other subject and that they're terrified of being ousted by Ukip, it seems about as likely as the Pope converting to Islam.

Gerald Howarth, the dishonourable member for Aldershot, backed a proposal from Nigel Farage - who isn't even an MP - that only Syrian Christians should be allowed to seek sanctuary here.

"As a Christian country, we should prioritise Christians who are being persecuted in Syria," he said.

As a "Christian country" one would imagine it might be a priority to look after the poorest and most vulnerable whatever their creed, faith or colour.

But then that's just dangerous radical nonsense isn't it?


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