The Iranian regime has banned access to the WhatsApp messaging site, reports Fox News. The reason for the ban: a Jewish “American Zionist” owns the site.
The announcement came some two months after Facebook bought the company, and an Iranian regime official connected the censorship directly to the founder of Facebook.
“The reason for this is the assumption of WhatsApp by the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is an American Zionist,” Abdolsamad Khorramabadi, head of the country’s Committee on Internet Crimes, stated.
Facebook is a publicly traded company. Zuckerberg owns approximately 28% of the company stock. Though born Jewish, he considers himself an atheist.
Tehran is wary of the power of social media. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has been monitoring Internet activity at least since the 2009 Green Revolution. Since that uprising was crushed, protesters have avoided violent retaliation by government forces by turning to the Internet and social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as safer ways to voice political dissent.
In 2011, the government formed the Iranian Cyber Police, known as FATA, solely to counter Internet “crimes.” Iran’s cyber police have an intimidating reputation. In October 2012, FATA arrested Sattar Beheshti, a blogger and government critic, for crimes “against national security on social networks and Facebook.” Beheshti was found dead less than a month later in his prison cell and is believed to have been tortured to death.
There has been periodic discussion in Iran of the government cutting the Internet altogether and replacing it with a Halal Net, an Islamically permissible Intranet that would only allow access to government-approved sites.
Ironically, President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and many other regime officials have become active on Twitter and Facebook and communicate globally through these platforms.