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Iconic, controversial mask for sale at Indigo (con't)

The mask is white with black markings outlining the face of the infamous 17th century English terrorist Guy Fawkes, leader of the well-known Gunpowder Plot, to blow up the British Parliament’s House of Lords and King James I, a Protestant, and to install his daughter, a Roman Catholic, on the throne.

To this day in England people in early November celebrate Guy Fawkes Night, similar to fireworks nights in Canada, where they hold parties and burn Fawkes in effigy.

The masked face, with raised eyebrows and moustache, exudes what could be described as an evil or diabolical smile.

Indigo is selling it as part of a V For Vendetta Deluxe Collector Set with the graphic novel V for Vendetta, listed online for about $20.

Guy Fawkes is pictured on the novel written by Alan Moore, a book which has become a kind of political or anti-establishment cult classic.

“In a world without political freedom, personal freedom and precious little faith in anything comes a mysterious man in a white porcelain mask who fights political oppressors through terrorism and seemingly absurd acts,” Indigo says on its website.

“It's a gripping tale of the blurred lines between ideological good and evil.”

Indeed Fawkes at the time was well identified as a terrorist and his plot sparked a severe crackdown “to deter future terrorist attempts,” according to The Economist magazine.

The graphic novel V for Vendetta is about a cloaked anarchist who wears the Guy Fawkes mask fighting against a fascist or authoritarian state.

“The authors wanted to celebrate Fawkes by turning him into an anti-hero for the modern age,” says the magazine.

The novel was the inspiration of the 2006 film of the same name starring Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving.

Meanwhile a loose knit web-based group known as Anonymous has claimed the mask with members known as Anons showing up at political rallies.

The mask obviously keeps those who wear it anonymous as per the group’s name.

Western University professor Dan Bousfield, who studies political protest, said the mask “allows anyone to participate in protests (and) it’s become a kind of popular way to express dissent.”

But anti-establishment types who buy it might be chagrined to learn that a royalty is kicked-back to Hollywood.

“So a lot of the critiques for the use of it are that the funds go back to the movie studio,” Bousfield said.

Indigo did not respond to questions about why the mask was for sale.

Meanwhile Canadian governments are attempting to ban this and other masks for use in protests.

Montreal city council passed a bylaw in 2013 against wearing masks and Ottawa brought in a change to the Criminal Code that similarly bans their use in demonstrations.

Police say the masks make it difficult to identify people who break the law.

The federal bill, sponsored by Tory Blake Richards, was introduced after the violent Toronto G20 protests and the Vancouver 2011 Stanley Cup riots.

Civil libertarians have decried the laws because they say they limit freedom of expression.

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