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Facebook, "hotbed of slander," banned in Tajikistan

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The government of Tajikistan has blocked access to Facebook across the country.

As of Monday, the country’s six Internet service providers and six mobile-phone carriers have banned the service following an official order from Tajikistan’s Office of Telecommunications.

“I received many calls from citizens of Tajikistan, asking me to shut down this Facebook as a hotbed of slander. Unknown people there insult the leaders of the state. They are apparently being paid well for that,” said Beg Zukhurov, head of the state-run communications service,  according to RIA Novosti, a Russian news agency. 

The reason for the country-wide ban is to quell opposition to President Imomali Rakhmon, who has been implicated in corruption by secret cables released by Wikileaks in 2010. Rakhmon has been in power since 1992.

"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," Zukhurov told Reuters Tuesday. "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."

Tajikistan has a population of 7.7 million, most of which are Sunni Muslim. Only about 55 percent of its population and 5.87 percent of all local Internet users use Facebook, The Next Web reported. That translates to about 41,000 users.

Over the last three years, about 150 people have been arrested on “charges of extremism and attempting to subvert the constitution,” Reuters reported

Photo by Salvatore.Freni/Flickr