Via Al Akbar:

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 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.

While the mask is often just a symbol or used for anonymity, there has been a specific connection of Anonymous and Occupy to activity in the “Arab Spring”. Anonymous had involvement in Iran and Tunisia, mostly in trying to facilitate internet access for protesters.   Occupy and Anonymous were also active in Egypt, with some Occupy leaders visiting Egypt last year.

Men wearing the masks were even involved in the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on September 11, 2012.  The mob waving Islamist and al Qaeda flags, some wearing the masks, pulled down the American flag, replacing with an Islamist flag, as they shouted, “Allahu Akbar!”  More video and pictures of  masks and Anonymous involvement in attack at Citizen Journalist.

The mask has become more popular in Egypt since the beginning of the year in the protests against President Morsi, some even buying it for the children to wear.