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Racism forces BBC site's closure

The Test Match Special site has been closed following a barrage of racist messages, reports Nabanita Sircar.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 20:41 IST

India-Pakistan cricket matches are always known to be excitable. But the present series has led to the closure of the BBC's Test Match Special website, following a barrage of racist and abusive postings on the message board.

Part of the site was suspended after the BBC received complaints that a number of users were sending insulting religious messages and promoting terrorism on the South Asian section of the Test Match Special website.

A trail of messages described as "absolutely sickening and reprehensible" is being investigated by the BBC in an attempt to trace the authors.

Complaints were received over a number of bulletins headed "Die white f******" and about comments on rape and suicide bombers. A user called "Covfanmartin" accused another of "spouting anti-Semitism and pro-terrorism, hate-filled bile". One user noted four posts supporting September 11 and another glorifying Hitler. "Laloo ram" accused one member of "posting filth and rude racist insulting junk", and "Indidhoom" said that two contributors "insulted Hinduism and their gods".

There have been accusations of Pakistanis masquerading as Indians and vice versa. Identities have included "Muslimssuck", "WannabeIndianMusharaff" and "Pakifromkarachi".

A message from the site's hosts told those responsible: "You have no right to abuse the BBC's service in this way. We will not sit back and let you post support or encouragement for acts of violence or racial obscenities."

A BBC statement posted on the South Asian bulletin boards said: "The Test Match Special South Asian board is currently closed. A decision to open it again in the near future will be made soon."

A BBC spokesman said yesterday: "The highly anticipated series between India and Pakistan set against a sensitive time for international politics has led to hostility between the two sets of fans on the message boards. To stop offence being caused and taking into account the extreme volume of traffic, we feel the best course of action is to suspend the board."

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said: "If somebody reports it to us and we felt that there were offences within it, we would investigate . . . If people log on anonymously, it's very difficult to find them."

First Published: Feb 15, 2006 20:41 IST