Blair launches global interfaith school program
Face to Faith intiative to boost ties between religions
Britain's former prime minister Tony Blair launched a project Tuesday to boost ties between young people of different faiths around the world through video-conferencing.
Blair took part in a live video link-up with students from Britain, India and the Palestinian Territories who discussed faith and then questioned Blair about his own faith and role as Middle East peace envoy.
The "Face to Faith" initiative, will involve more than 3,520 secondary school students in 10 countries in Asia, Europe and North America who will discuss their views on global affairs, in order to boost understanding.
"If you look round the different parts of the world and you look at conflicts, I would say a very large percentage of them have a religious dimension or a faith dimension to them," Blair said.
"So to get young people at an early age to be comfortable with people of a different faith is extremely important."
Other countries with schools taking part in the scheme are Pakistan, Lebanon, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Canada and the United States.
Organizers hope schools in India and Pakistan could hook up via the project in the coming months -- and even Israeli and Palestinian students.
Teachers said the issues they hoped to tackle varied from the need to steer children away from militant influences in Pakistan to preventing Islamophobia in British schools.
Blair -- who famously didn't "do God" when in office -- predicted that the 21st century could be dominated by "fundamental religious ideology" but said religion should not be seen as a "divisive force".
"As the world pushes everyone together, it's important religion doesn't become a means of pulling them apart," he said.
The project is being organized by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which Blair -- who converted to Catholicism soon after leaving office in 2007 -- established to boost understanding of religion.
you look round the different parts of the world and you look at conflicts, I would say a very large percentage of them have a religious dimension or a faith dimension to them