Battling extremism is not waging war on Islam says minister

Fighting religious extremism should and must not be seen as a war against the Muslim faith, Italy's foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Tuesday.

The international community must mobilise to protect religious minorities, Gentiloni argued in an address to a faith festival taking place in Florence.

If this does not happen, safeguarding religious minorities will seem an exclusively western concern, he said.

"That would be in contrast with the concept of pluralism and dialogue that we want to promote."

"Responding to fundamentalism can and must not be interpreted as a war against Islam. We need to go beyond this," Gentiloni stated.

Gentiloni was dubbed a crusader earlier this year by the Islamic State militant group after he backed military intervention against Islamist militias in strife-wracked Libya.