Blair confronts Tutu, SA Muslims
Johannesburg - Former UK prime minister Tony Blair has challenged SA Muslims protesting against his visit to this country to rather protest against the Muslims whom he says are doing most of the killing in Iraq and elsewhere.
Blair, who will speak at a Discovery Invest leadership conference on Thursday, also shrugged off a decision by Archbishop Desmond Tutu not to participate because of his presence.
He said he and Tutu would just have to agree to disagree. Moral decisions on whether or not to intervene in countries such as Iraq in 2003 – or Syria today – were very difficult, he said. In an interview in Joburg on Wednesday, he defended his decision to join the US invasion of Iraq by citing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s atrocities.
Tutu pulled out of the conference saying Blair’s call to support the US invasion of Iraq “on the basis of unproven allegations of the existence of weapons of mass destruction was morally indefensible”.
The Discovery conference was about leadership. Morality and leadership were indivisible, so it would be “inappropriate and untenable for the archbishop to share a platform with Mr Blair”, Tutu said.
Diplomatic sources revealed on Wednesday that Tutu had also pulled out of a BBC interview on Thursday because Blair was part of it. It will go ahead with Blair and others, including Moeletsi Mbeki, the brother of former president Thabo Mbeki.
Blair said Tutu was entitled to his views. But he noted:
“I don’t think you could say that leaving Saddam Hussein in place was a morally superior choice.”
Blair also brushed off threats by SA Muslims to effect a citizen’s arrest on him. “I ask them, ‘Why don’t you protest against those doing the killing?’” Most deaths because of terrorist activity were in Muslim-on-Muslim violence – “an outrage against the proper faith of Islam”.