China

In pictures: The face masks Hong Kong wants to ban

A woman raises her hand while wearing a mask on Friday in Hong Kong Image copyright Getty Images

For months, Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets, their identities concealed behind masks.

But on Friday - in the face of increasingly violent clashes between hard-line protesters and police - the Chinese territory's government enacted a ban on face masks with the help of a colonial-era law which hadn't been used in decades.

The ban came into effect at midnight Hong Kong time (16:00 GMT) - potentially changing the face of the protests.

Because these masks weren't just a way for the movement to hide their identities from police, employers and parents, but also a layer of protection against the tear gas fired into the demonstrating crowds.

But protesters were not going down without a fight: legal challenges have been launched, with thousands of masked activists taking to the city's streets to voice their anger.

Masked protesters march in the street as they take part in a rally held to show opposition to an anti-mask law meant to deter anti-government protesters, Image copyright EPA
Image caption Protesters wasted no time demanding the ban was revoked, demonstrating against it before it was officially announced
An anti-government protester wears a mask during a demonstration in Wong Tai Sin district, in Hong Kong Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Thousands of people donned masks during their lunch breaks, before many returned to their offices
A masked anti-government protester points to a sign on his forehead which says "stand with freedom, stand with Hong Kong" Image copyright Reuters
Image caption But they rejoined the protests after chief executive Carrie Lam announced the ban would come into effect at midnight
Anti-government office workers wearing masks attend a lunch time protest, after local media reported on an expected ban on face masks under emergency law, at Central, in Hong Kong Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some people have taken to wearing gas masks in recent weeks, due to the tear gas
A pro-democracy demonstrator wears a mask that reads "suck it Carrie" as she and others gather at Chater Garden Image copyright AFP
Image caption There was mounting anger at Ms Lam, who critics accuse of being a puppet of the Beijing government
A man wearing a cartoon mask takes part in a protest in the Central district in Hong Kong Image copyright AFP
Image caption The comedic tone of some masks belied the anger felt. Opposition figures warned it could be the first of more "draconian" steps
A protester wearing a facemask gestures while people gather in the Admiralty area of Hong Kong Image copyright AFP
Image caption As night fell, the anger appeared to intensify, with buildings and train stations vandalised
An anti-government protester wears a mask made with a FedEx envelope Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Beijing has welcomed the ban, saying it is neccesary to bring the protests to an end
A protester looks out from behind some umbrellas in Hong Kong Image copyright AFP
Image caption However, few know how the police will actually enforce the rule should Hong Kong's protesters choose to ignore it

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