There is an issue within Islam that must be resolved before the Middle East can move forward, the former prime minister of the U.K., Tony Blair, told CNBC.
"If you believe, as I do, that there is not a problem with Islam, but there is an issue within Islam that has to be resolved around this relationship between politics and religion," he said on the outskirts of the Egypt Economic Development Conference in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.
If this issue is resolved then the region can send out "waves that are very positive," he said. These would start to diminish the impact of extremism around Britain and within the rest of Europe.
The former prime minister called the issue an "existential battle" between open-minded and closed-minded groups within the Middle East. He said there was renewed hope that new political leaders were now standing up and speaking openly about this issue between "politics and religion."
He used the friction between different religions in the Far East as an example.
"(In the) Far East there are issues of extremism, that extremism hasn't been borne out of the culture of the Far East, it was imported from the Middle East," he said.
Blair added: "So if you go to the source of this problem and create a different environment around the relationship between politics and religion, I think you start to have an impact that will be felt on the streets of Britain, and Indonesia and Malaysia and Thailand and the Philippines - let alone across the Middle East and Africa."