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Iran censors move to block WhatsApp because it's run by 'zionist' Zuckerberg

Sharif Sakr

There's a tug of war going on between political factions in Iran, and once again it's internet users who are likely to bear the brunt of it. According to Fox News, Iranian censors have suddenly decided to ban citizens from using WhatsApp, in direct defiance of more progressive government ministers who say they're against such a move. There's no concrete evidence that any block or filtering is in place yet, and even President Hassan Rouhani has tweeted his objection to it, but Iran's "Committee for Determining Criminal Web Content" has reportedly called for the popular messaging service to be prohibited on the basis that it's now "owned" [sic] by the "American zionist" Mark Zuckerberg (whose background is Jewish).

Aside from the well-worn premise of anti-zionism (whatever that means, exactly), a simpler explanation might be that WhatsApp is considered a threat to Iran's conservative establishment, in much the same way as its parent company is. After all, both Twitter and Facebook were banned in 2009 after being used to organize mass protests against the hardline former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. A rival messaging service, WeChat, was also recently banned in Iran, despite having no obvious connection to Jews, Israel or zionism.

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