Mr Blair said it was “absurd” that some people were surprised at how powerful Islamist extremist groups were, given the amount of funding they received and indoctrination they spread.

“Measure, over the years, the paucity of our counter-attack in the name of peaceful coexistence,” he said. “We have been outspent, outmanoeuvred and out-strategised.”…

He said he was “intrigued” by the fact that western leaders, including Barack Obama, the US President, felt the need to condemn Terry Jones, a pastor who threatened to burn a Koran.

“Suppose an Imam, with thirty followers, in Karachi was to burn a bible,” he said. “I can barely imagine a murmur of protest. It wouldn’t be necessary for the President of Pakistan to condemn it because no one here would remotely consider he supported it.”