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Tajik Official Blocks Facebook and Summons its CEO

Since November 26, more than 41,000 Facebook users in Tajikistan have not been able to access the social-network site. For the second time over the last ten months, Tajik authorities ordered that the country's internet providers and mobile operators block access to Facebook for ‘technical reasons'.

Yet, as Farkhod commenting on blogiston.tj suggests [ru]:

Самое страшное не то, что заблокировали Фейсбук, а то, как это объяснили…

The worst thing is not the fact that Facebook has been blocked, but the was this has been explained…

Speaking to media, head of the state-run communications service Beg Zukhurov alleged that many “academics, doctors, and important cultural figures” had asked him to block the social-media site because of the “filth and slander” it contains. He also suggested [ru] that some Facebook users earned from 5,000 US$ to 10,000$ by posting ”negative” and “insulting” comments about Tajik leadership.

Beg Zukhurov, the chief of Tajikistan's state-run telecommunications agency. Still frame from YouTube video uploaded August 17, 2012, by yandexdisk.

Summoning Zuckerberg

But what has led many internet users to ridicule Zukhurov is his announcement that he wanted Facebook's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to arrive in Tajikistan. According to BBC Russian Service, Zukhurov said [ru]:

Вообще хозяин у этого Facebook есть или нет? Он не может приехать в Таджикистан? Я бы с ним в дни приема встретился. Если у него нет времени, можно поговорить с кем-то из его помощников.

Does this Facebook have an owner or not? Could he come to Tajikistan? I would meet with him during my office hours. If he doesn't have time, I could meet with one of his assistants.

News Agency Asia-PLUS then reported [ru] that Zukhurov's office hours when Zuckerberg or his assistants could meet with him are from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturdays.

Netizens have responded with a wave of humorous comments and angry remarks. For example, blogger Iskandar Zarafshoni wrote [ru]:

Все таки лучше чтобы Цукерберг Зухурова послушал и приехал к нему на встречу как можно быстрее. Ато он разозлится и вызовет на встречу Бараку Обаму за то что он не контролирует фейсбук. Барак может придти к Захарову навстречу в приемные дни )))

It is better for Zuckerberg to do as requested and come to meet with Zukurov as soon as possible. Otherwise, he [Zukhurov] might get angry and summon Barack Obama for not controlling Facebook. Barack [Obama] can come to meet Zukhurov during his office hours )))

Ridiculing the official

In addition to ridiculing Zukhurov's lack of knowledge about what Facebook is and his decision to summon Zuckerberg, Tajik netizens have also been shocked by the official's inability to speak properly. His interview [tj] on Radio Ozodi is a mix of Russian and Tajik words that does not sound anything close to how other officials normally speak on record.

Blogger Shukufa writes [ru]:

Он же разговаривает как человек, который даже в школу никогда не ходил. Я никогда не думала, что чиновник на такой высокой государственной должности может ТАК разговаривать – на уровне 10-летнего мальчика, продающего “салафан” на базаре.

He speaks like a person who didn't go to school. I would have never thought that an official holding such a senior government post could speak THIS WAY – just like a 10-year-old boy selling plastic bags on a market.

She then adds [ru]:

То, что Бег клоун – это всем понятно. Но КАК такой человек, не умеющий говорить и скрывать свою придурковатость, попал на рыководящую правительственную должность? Он ведь позорит не только себя, но и все правительство Таджикистана. Да что там правительство – ВСЮ СТРАНУ!

That Beg [Zukhurov] is a clown is clear to everyone. But HOW could such an individual who cannot speak properly or hide his foolishness end up having a managerial job in the government? He is not only disgracing himself, he is also disgracing the entire government of Tajikistan. And leaving the government aside, [he disgraces] THE WHOLE COUNTRY!

Blogger, Teocrat has pointed out [ru] that there are several presidential decrees that Zukhurov disobeyed by ordering Facebook blocked. Another Tajik blogger, KHURRSHED, has shared [ru] different techniques that can be used to access Facebook despite the block.

Meanwhile, three days after blocking the social network, Zukhurov told [tj] journalists today that a group of “volunteers” monitoring internet asked him to keep Facebook closed. Global Voices Online reported in July that Zukhurov was planning to create a watchdog organization to monitor online publications and websites for “insulting” and “slanderous” content. Apparently, such an organization has been created and is functioning in Tajikistan now. Or this is what the official wants Tajiks to believe.

Alexander Sodiqov has contributed to this post.

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