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Vendetta masks in UAE colours draw warning

Product being sold online declared illegal as National Day draws closer

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Police officials have warned that wearing Guy Fawkes masks is illegal in the UAE.
Gulf News

Dubai: Police officials in Dubai have warned against wearing a mask that symbolises opposition to state authority during any celebrations connected to National Day and declared it illegal.

Any person found wearing Guy Fawkes masks, also known as ‘Vendetta masks’, risks police questioning as any object or action deemed to be instigating unrest or insulting the UAE is illegal, police officials said.

The masks are a stylised depiction of a man who was behind the failed Gunpowder Plot to blow up the British House of Lords in London in 1605. The plot is commemorated with a fireworks displays in the UK on November 5 each year in an event that has come to be known as Guy Fawkes night.

The masks being targeted at people in the UAE have mainly shown up on some online stores and are emblazoned with the colours of the UAE flag — red, white, green and black. They also feature the number 41 prominently — a reference to the 41st National Day on December 2.

The ‘Vendetta mask’ was popularised during the Arab Spring uprisings and has been used as a symbol of rebellion against governments and regimes across the region. Its design closely mirrors the mask used by activists portrayed in the 2006 movie ‘V for Vendetta’.

A Dubai Police official stressed the negative connotations of the mask. “Using any symbol that insults the country or instigates unrest against its system is not allowed. We urge citizens to celebrate using other symbols such as national flags, slogans or photos that are more appropriate to the happy occasion of National Day.”

The masks are being offered online for around Dh50 each with shipping fees ranging between Dh20-50.

Some markets and stores in Dubai are also reportedly selling the masks.

Emirati Twitter users have taken to the social media outlet to warn against wearing the mask and explaining its serious implications — claiming some people have no idea of what the mask denotes.