The day after the tragic fire that killed 15, an Azerbaijani diplomat, head of the Permanent Observer Mission of Organization of Islamic Cooperation to the European Union, Arif Mammadov posted on his personal Facebook profile, a status, critical of the official authorities in Azerbaijan:
“This tragedy is the pain and tragedy of every Azerbaijani. No people will tolerate so much shame and injustice. Officials make millions off our people’s suffering, and if they do not fear the wrath of our people, then let them fear Allah's wrath!”
Hikmat Hajiyev, was among those who "liked" the update above. However, Hajiyev, also a diplomat, and Foreign Ministry spokesperson apologized for his “like” shortly after: “From the technical point of view the “like” option on social media platforms does not mean acceptance or approval of any opinion, and is more about the concept “seen it, read it”. Nevertheless, due to a misunderstanding of the “like” status in social networks related to the fire, I apologize.”
Hajiyev also added, “I strongly condemn the acts and thoughts of Arif Mammadov, who for several years worked in the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan […] Insults against his own people are not allowed. This is a prime example of how Arif Mammadov together with his patrons in Europe is involved in the anti-Azerbaijani propaganda campaign in the run-up to the European Games”.
“Such a behavior from the diplomat, if confirmed, would be inappropriate and far from ethic norms. It would be an irresponsible and unprofessional behavior that is unacceptable” msaid Hajiyev.
According to Facebook’s own Support page, “Like gives positive feedback and connect with things you care about”. Further, “Clicking Like below a post on Facebook is an easy way to let people know that you enjoy it without leaving a comment.” According to Wikipedia page, “Like button, like option, or recommend button is a feature in communication software such as social networking services, internet forums, news websites, and blogs where the user can express that they like, enjoy or support certain content”.
It is possible Hikmat Hajiyev, misunderstood the purpose of the “like” button, just as he misunderstood Mammadov’s Facebook post.
In the meantime, Arif Mammdov was quickly labeled a traitor and accused of treason by Azerbaijan based online media outlet Haqqin.az.
In his response to criticism at home, Mammadov wrote the following on his Facebook:
"Dear friends, brothers and sisters, and the great Azerbaijani nation! I am surprised and outraged with their hunting the best diplomats of the country. The order for the repression came from the repressive factory of the country. This power only needs people such as Eynulla Fatullayev and the like [editor-in-chief of Haqqin.az]. It is above all understanding when for "likes" on Facebook on my condolences to the families of those killed during the tragic fire in Baku the country's best diplomats are dismissed. Diplomats are forced to write derogatory statements. Some people compare it to the repression of the late 1930s in the USSR. I would say that the actions taking place now can only be called insanity of the power. It did not take place either in the 1930s or in the 1940s, or even during the Inquisition. I worked in the Foreign Ministry for more than 20 years and this Ministry has many decent and honest people, who for many years protect the country's interests in the world."
"Yesterday I came back to Belgium after a business trip and I was shocked to learn that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium and the European institutions are aware of this outrage. I was approached with an official proposal to protect me and my family. I refused, but the Belgian Foreign Ministry insists."
"Several media have reported that I am looking for political asylum in Norway. Let them not wait for that! My determination to fight obscurantism and injustice against my great nation is limitless. I appeal to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry diplomats who are the victims! On my honor, the people of Azerbaijan will restore justice and you will occupy the highest positions in the state. This wait is not much.
On June 3, President Ilham Aliyev recalled Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Ukraine and Permanent Representative to the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development (GUAM) Eynulla Madatli. Madatli was one of the other diplomats who liked Mammadov's Facebook status.