Saudi Arabia Bans Guy Fawkes Vendetta Masks, Invokes ‘Culture of Violence’

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | May 31, 2013 2:01 PM EST

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior had ordered on Thursday the immediate confiscation and destruction, as well as import and sale, of all Guy Fawkes masks made famous by the graphic novel and movie "V for Vendetta."

According to Saudi newspaper al-Madina, the mask has become widespread in the Middle Eastern oil-rich nation to maintain anonymity and hide identification during anti-government protests, essentially inciting "a culture of violence and extremism." It also "encourages young people to breach security and spread chaos in society."

"The government envisions the Vendetta masks as means of pushing youth groups to extremism and violence," the Saudi Al-Madina newspaper was quoted as saying.

However, the paper noted the statement seemed to point to Sunni youths as a concern, although unrest in Saudi Arabia had been more known in Shiite communities in the country's east.

The ban includes the confiscation and destruction of masks already being sold in Saudi Arabian markets and toy stores.

Released in 2006, the movie "V for Vendetta" indeed had become an international symbol of anarchism and revolution. Even the hacktivist group Anonymous uses it as its emblem.

Set in the future, a masked figure calling himself "V" and modeling himself on Fawkes tries to save England from a totalitarian police state that spreads propaganda through the media. Adapted from an earlier graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd, the film version was a global hit.

Its side-effects, however, were not imagined for sure both by the book authors and film makers.

In February, Bahrain banned the Guy Fawkes mask, while the United Arab Emirates in November 2012 likewise did the same. In both countries, anyone caught wearing the mask would be subjected to police questioning.

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