The Kingdom of Bahrain’s Industry and Commerce Minister, Hassan Fakhro, issued an unusual decree this week: he banned the importation of a plastic face mask. Anyone caught importing the V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask now faces arrest, as anti-government protesters in the country have been using them to stay anonymous.
The stylised visage of Guy Fawkes became popular among protesters after the 2005 Hollywood film depicted thousands marching on Parliament wearing them.
Yet, while it has became an icon for protesters from members of the Occupy Wall Street movement to London demonstrators taking on the Church of Scientology, it has also been a key part of protests in the Arab Spring and Middle Eastern protests that have continued since the heady days of 2011.
Sadly, though, it is but a mask. And the thing about a masks is, you can print them, paint them or draw them yourself. Unless the minister plans to ban all such activity it seems an action as futile as the real Guy Fawkes’s.