Gathering tension over a cricket match between India and Pakistan – traditional Hindu/Muslim rivals – has led to a torrent of racial abuse on a BBC website, forcing its closure.
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-semetic (sic) and pro-terrorism, hate-filled bile”, while 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”. India and Pakistan are at the moment in the middle of a series of one-day matches.
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 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.”