Many Americans were likely shocked and surprised to learn that the government of Tajikistan has decided to block the country’s citizens’ access to Facebook.
Many Americans were also shocked to hear that there was such a country as Tajikistan.
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The ban came as a result of a host of comments that attacked Imomali Rakhmon, president of the Central Asian country. Rakhmon has been in power for more than 20 years, and he faces an upcoming election.
This marks the second time that the Tajik government has banned the social networking site, leveraging the state-run communications service to enact the ban, which stems from accusations that individuals were paying posters to write negative comments about the government.
"The best representatives of the public -- among them academics, doctors and important cultural figures -- are tired of the stream of mud and slander that flows from the website called Facebook," government spokesperson Beg Zukhurov told Reuters. "With this public support, a decision was taken to block this site, where some people are receiving $5,000 to $10,000 for every critical comment that they post."
Rakhmon has been in power since 1992 and faces an election in fall of 2013. During his tenure as leader of the former Soviet state, Rakhmon has targeted dissenters, blocking Facebook for 10 days this March for similar reasons. The site has become increasingly popular in the past year and a half, while the government concern over dissenting opinions has increased.
It is safe to say that the eyes of the United States will be locked on Dushanbe during this crisis – if we can find it on a map.
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo