Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has accepted an invitation to become chairman of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR). The ECTR boasts an advisory board comprising a dozen European presidents and prime ministers. It describes itself as a non-governmental body that "fosters understanding and tolerance among peoples of various ethnic origin; educates on techniques of reconciliation; facilitates post-conflict social apprehensions; monitors chauvinistic behaviours, proposes protolerance initiatives and legal solutions."
Behind all this jargon, Blair and the ECTR claim to promote religious belief and dialogue as a means to challenge hate speech and extremism. Writing in The Times, Blair and ECTR President Moshe Kantor state:
"It is our firm belief that it is not religion or faith per se that causes or foments conflict. It is the abuse of religion, which then becomes a mask behind which those bent on death and destruction all too often hide. ... The ECTR brings together parties and political leaders who have been at the heart of some of the world's most difficult conflicts to foster dialogue. Our projects also tackle conflicts from the ground up -- focusing on the root causes of intolerance, which are usually ignorance of other faiths and cultures -- and so the ECTR takes its message to schools and universities around Europe to encourage tolerance and reconciliation."