Re: Islamism threads:
A lot of initial indignation was grounded in the fear that the harsh truth may hurt. But a good balance was found thanks to Shiv's persistence.
But has a balance been found?
The Islamism thread is pretty toxic. A bunch of us (and I include myself in this) post stuff there that (a) tends to create a negative impression of Islam, rather than just Islamism and (b) reinforces this impression by concentrating negative reports from many media sources.
Now that thread was educational. Many of us now understand radical Islamism, its history and goals etc. But do we now openly express contempt for Islam itself?
I sometimes do a double take when I read (and myself contribute) that thread. I wonder what impression it creates in the mind of an Indian Muslim who is interested in the military and comes across BRF.
There were few muslim participants in the early days. Imtiaz, Salman, Badar contributed very good posts. Rise of Islamism threads can be correlated to a decline in the participation of muslims. And many may argue that the correlation extends to causation.
But Islamism has been a threat to India and still is. People who bombed Jaipur recently and their predecessors don't shy away from thumping Quran to justify their actions.
The poignant fact is that the seeds of Islamism can be traced directly into the Quran itself. If they were to be found only in the Hadiths, a stronger case could have been made to separate Islam from Islamism. Added to this is the rigid notion in Islam that everything in Quran is Allah's word, and irrespective of under what conditions or circumstances they were revealed to Mohammad, they are applicable to all space and all time (universal & eternal). That doesn't leave much wiggle room for Kafirs try to see Islam and Islamism as fundamentally different.
Yet, many muslims do make that difference. M.J. Akbar mentioned that by Jihad he understood an internal spiritual struggle. But unfortunately many other muslims don't. And none of them will question openly the universal & eternal claimed nature of Allah's word.
Given that Islamism has a direct relevance to India's security, the forum would have been amiss to not discuss this by hiding behind political correctness.
The forum's approach has been to make a distinction that Islam is larger than Islamism. So, a criticism should be directed using only the term Islamism. It doesn't mean Islam itself is left out, since Islamism is part of Islam, but that it is recognized that Islam is larger than that.
Unfortunately Islamism and Islam will continue to get conflated, until some passages in Quran are not openly asserted to have limited validity by Muslims. For example you sometimes hear that the passages relating to violence against Kafirs were applicable only during the war fought by Mohammad. But muslim community as a whole, not just some individuals, would have to come to that conclusion. And convince the Kafirs that they mean it. Chances of that happening are frankly rather dim at the present.
So, I don't know whether there is a happy way out.