Former UK prime minister Tony Blair yesterday stressed the need to battle the ideas spread by several pressure groups that he saw as willing to undermine Prevent, the UK government’s anti-extremism strategy, and which were against the appointment of anti-extremism commissioner, Sara Khan.

“There’s a big challenge within our own societies to confront these ideas and defeat them.

“That’s what Prevent and Sara Khan are trying to do, but the reason they’re being attacked is precisely because those people who want to propagate those ideas are trying to stigmatise anyone who challenges them as being anti-Muslim, when in fact you’re simply trying to combat extremism,” Blair said.

Asked which groups he had in mind, Blair said there were “very obvious ones like Cage and Mend and Hizbut Tahir (international fundamentalist group)”, stressing the need to “combat their ideas vigorously”.

Blair pointed at “a genuine propaganda barrage” that was being spread into the UK Muslim community, and which saw the government “essentially as a hostile force”.

The pressure group Cage describes itself as an independent grassroots organisation campaigning against “discriminatory state policies”.

It gained worldwide attention after calling Mohammed Emwazi, the Islamic State terrorist group member known as Jihadi John, “a beautiful young man”.

Mend - Muslim engagement and development - says its mission is to “empower and encourage” UK Muslims within local communities to get involved more actively in UK media and politics. Sputnik