If they aren’t denying the holocaust or lobbing empty threats against Israel, Iran has to get in the news somehow. On the menu today? The country is banning WhatsApp because it is owned by Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook. The head of the country’s Committee on Internet Crimes, Abdolsamad Khorramabadi reportedly said: “The reason for this is the assumption of WhatsApp by the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is an American Zionist.”
So, a fatwa against text messaging. Zuckerberg was raised in a Jewish family, but now self-identifies as an atheist. The sourcing for the story comes from IRNA, Iran’s state news agency. Later, President Hassan Rouhani tweeted out that the government of Iran is “fully opposed to filtering of WhatsApp”. He should have done a status update on Facebook – just for irony.
Both Twitter and Facebook have been banned in Iran since the 2009 protests against the then president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Social media was used to swell the protests in cities such as Tehran.
Iran is known for inter-governmental spats. It seems the conflicting statements are showing a small tug of war within the government. Whether or not the ban goes forward is unknown. It is the latest move by a country that craves the international stage, and is willing to look foolish doing it.