As Los Angeles Clipper’s owner Donald Sterling is banned from the NBA for making racial comments to his girlfriend in a private phone call, the country of Iran bans Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s Whatsapp because it says Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is a “Zionist.” Zuckerberg was raised Jewish but is now atheist.

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook

“Zuckerberg is an American Zionist”

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Iran’s social censor decided to forbid the application in the strict Islamic nation.  “The reason for this is the assumption of WhatsApp by the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is an American Zionist,” Abdolsamad Khorramabadi, head of the country’s Committee on Internet Crimes, was quoted in the report as saying.

Rouhani backtracks

News reports cited Iran’s state news agency IRNA for the story.  Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani, reacting to the news, later tweeted that the Government was “fully opposed to filtering of WhatsApp.”

Such a conflict between major leaders is a signal that a dispute inside the government may be taking place, according to reports. Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) were been banned in Iran in 2009 after protests against former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad found momentum thanks to social media.

Rouhani, 66, is Iran’s seventh president.  When campaigning he promised to prepare a “civil rights charter,” restore the economy and improve rocky relations with western nations. Rouhani is considered a politically moderate.

Rouhani took August 2013, the same year Time Magazine named him the 9th most influential people in the world.  In his domestic policy, the Iranian politician encourages personal freedom and free access to information, has been lauded on women’s rights issues by appointing female foreign ministry spokespersons, and has been described as a centrist and reformist who has improved Iran’s diplomatic relations with other countries through exchanging conciliatory letters.

Zuckerberg founded Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) in 2004 and recently purchased WhatsApp for $19 billion. He has been accused of working with the National Security Agency in sharing information about users.