Bahrain has banned the import of Guy Fawkes masks in an attempt to stem the nation’s two-year-old protest movement.
The ban is specific to the V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask that Anonymous followers tend to wear. The mask has become a symbol for anti-government movements around the world.
The stylized mask became popular after the film depicted thousands of people marching on Parliament while wearing them, reports The Independent.
While the Guy Fawkes mask has become a symbol of the Occupy movement, it has also been a part of key protests in the Arab Spring and Middle Eastern protests.
Russia Today notes that the country’s Interior Ministry claimed the move to ban imports of the mask was in the “public interest.”
The country’s border and port authorities will prevent any masks from being imported. Anyone caught trying to get around the ban will be arrested.
While the government claims it is in the peoples’ best interest, the measure has been interpreted by citizens and supporters of the movement as an attempt to eliminate a symbol that has become potent among those who oppose the monarchy’s rule. It is also considered an attempt to keep anti-government demonstrators from concealing their identities.
Bahrain is currently ruled by a Sunni monarchy, even though 75 percent of the country is Shia. Thousands of protesters swamped the streets of the capital two years ago, demanding democratic reform and the resignation of the country’s prime minister.
It is also the second Gulf country to ban the Guy Fawkes mask. The United Arab Emirates announced a ban on wearing the mask on National Day, December 2, 2012. Bahrain’s attempted coup has been much less bloody than the Syrian conflict, which started around the same time. At least 82 protesters have been killed, while more than 70,000 people have died in Syria.