Bahrain bans Guy Fawkes mask

A protester in a Guy Fawkes mask participates in an anti-government rally organized by Bahrain's main opposition society al-Wefaq in Budaiya, west of Manama, on 15 February 2013. (Photo: Reuters - Hamad I Mohammed)

Published Monday, February 25, 2013

Bahrain has banned Guy Fawkes masks, in an apparent bid to further stifle opposition protests in the wealthy Gulf state.

A document issued by the Bahraini Ministry of Industry and Commerce on Thursday cited “public safety” as a factor behind the decision to ban the import of “revolution masks.”

The Minister of Industry and Commerce:
After looking at Law number 35 of the year 2012 concerning the protection of consumers, and more closely at article 16 of the law;
And building upon the request of the Ministry of Interior;
And taking into account the public's safety;
And building on the suggestion of the secretary to the ministry of Trade;

The following has been decided:

Article One:
It is prohibited to import the "Revolution Mask" or anything similar to it that conceals the face.

Article Two:
It is up to the secretary of the Ministry of Trade as well as all who specialize in the kingdom's ports – each with their own jurisdiction – to execute this decision and to do so beginning at the date of its publication and to publish it in official newspapers.

Minister of Industry and Commerce,
Hassan Bin-Abdallah Fakhro

The Guy Fawkes mask, which became iconic thanks to its use in the 2006 movie “V for Vendetta,” has become an international symbol of anarchism and revolution. It is also an emblem of the hacktivist group Anonymous.

The mask has become particularly widespread in the Middle East to maintain anonymity during anti-government protests. The United Arab Emirates also banned the mask in November, saying that anyone wearing the mask could be subjected to police questioning, Gulf News reported at the time.

Bahrain has witnessed two years of political upheaval linked to opposition demands for a real constitutional monarchy, with the unrest claiming at least 80 lives, according to international rights groups.

Protests continue despite the resumption on February 10 of a national dialogue between opposition groups and the government. A Saudi-led Gulf force entered the island in March 2011 to help crush the rebellion, but the country still witnesses almost daily protests.

The small but strategic kingdom is home to US Fifth Fleet.

(Al-Akhbar)

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