A member of the Blenheim Gigatown team who posted an anti-Muslim tirade on the group's Facebook page has apologised after initially downplaying the remarks as a joke.
Peter Chapman said he posted the message, which poked fun at Muslim culture, to "engender community spirit" and to encourage gigatown Blenheim Facebook friends to repost #gigatown.
Confusion remains over Chapman's position in the team.
Team member Debbie Carter said he had been removed as an administrator this morning.
However, fellow member Deedee Bancroft said the decision on his future had been opened up to the public.
Gigatown Facebook friends, who had not viewed the posting, supported Chapman today, saying he should remain.
Chapman posted a lengthy anti-Muslim rant on Tuesday but deleted it after a Blenheim man complained.
The Facebook site, which is campaigning to bring faster broadband to Blenheim, has more than 2000 members.
Under the Gigatown Blenheim heading, Chapman began by saying he might "risk international uproar" but thought "open-minded" people might have a "wee giggle" at his post.
The post went on to poke fun at Muslim culture and claimed people in all Muslim countries were unhappy.
Chapman said today he had posted the comments as a "bit of a joke".
"Jokes and prizes are posted on the site to engender community spirit to get people posting the #gigatown. It was no more than a harmless joke. If the joke offended anybody I apologise."
Chapman tried to deflect criticism onto the Blenheim man who had complained to gigatown about the post.
Chapman said many others had seen the amusing side of the post and did not find it offensive.
Carter said she was appalled by the post and Chapman had been removed as administrator this morning.
"We hope that there won't be any more [messages] – this is a fun competition and it is appalling that this post got put on this page."
Carter said Chapman had been severely reprimanded and could not post on behalf of the administration team.
However, Bancroft deflected the criticism, saying Chapman had worked hard voluntarily on the gigatown campaign and the posting had been an error of judgment.
"I take all jokes with a pinch of salt. Other people misconstrue jokes differently. I don't judge. He knows he has done wrong. He feels he has let us down."
Chapman's posts would need to be moderated closely, Bancroft said.
"I understand the post should not have gone through. It is not the right content for the site.
"If it has damaged the reputation of gigatown we can't do much about it. If one post has undone all the work it would be really sad."
- The Marlborough Express
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