June 4, 2015 / 8:33 AM / 4 years ago

Former PM Blair to take on role tackling racism and anti-Semitism

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrives for the Afghanistan service of commemoration at St Paul's Cathedral in London March 13, 2015. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

LONDON (Reuters) - Former prime minister Tony Blair has been appointed chairman of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR), a Brussels-based organisation dedicated to tackling racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Europe.

Last week it was announced that Blair would be standing down from his role as Middle East envoy next month, after eight years struggling to advance peacemaking between Israel and the Palestinians.

He will take over from former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski in the honorary role at the ECTR, which has campaigned for new laws to give courts greater power to prosecute hate speech and make Holocaust denial illegal.

“Despite our best efforts to build a consensus around tolerance in Europe, we still see injustice, discrimination and hideous acts of violence on the continent,” Blair, prime minister from 1997 to 2007, said in a statement.

“Incidents of extremism, rising anti-Semitism and surging nationalist forces who seek to cultivate a spirit of resentment by playing on people’s fears threaten our European ideals of freedom, equality and a desire for peace.”

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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