Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing lawmakers have renewed their calls for the government to introduce an anti-mask law, saying it will help end violent protests in the city. But their rivals in the pan-democratic camp objected to the idea. They said such legislation would add fuel to the fire, and the best way to end violence was for officials to respond to public demands for measures such as an independent inquiry into police’s use of force on demonstrators. Mass protests were triggered in June by the now-shelved extradition bill , and what began as peaceful marches have escalated into violent clashes with police, with masked protesters hurling petrol bombs at officers, who responded with rubber bullets and beanbag rounds. A police officer fired one warning shot into the air as protesters chased and attacked him and several colleagues with metal pipes during anti-government demonstrations in Tsuen Wan on Sunday. Lawmaker Holden Chow Ho-ding, vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), believed that enacting an anti-mask law would help cool the situation. “In some Western countries, there is also legislation to ban people from wearing masks in unlawful protests. It helped officers to enforce the law appropriately, and deterred people [from engaging in violence],” he said on Thursday. Organiser of banned Hong Kong protests attacked with baseball bats Chow added that people who took part in lawful protests, or those who needed to wear masks on religious or health grounds, should be exempted under the proposed law. Fellow lawmaker Gary Chan Hak-kan, vice-chairman of the DAB, also said overseas studies showed that people were more likely to take violent action when they were masked. Chow and Chan submitted a petition to a government representative on Thursday, calling for legislation. In a separate rally outside the government’s headquarters, Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Michael Luk Chung-hung also said an anti-mask law was needed “to stop the criminal acts of the extreme radicals, and to safeguard peace in society”. At least 15 North American or European countries have legislation banning people from wearing masks. These countries included the United States, Canada, Germany and France. An anti-mask law in the United States can be traced to 1845, when tenant farmers wore disguises to attack law enforcement officials. In 1965, the law in some states was updated to prevent masked gatherings of two or more people, except in the case of masquerade parties. Canada approved a bill in 2013 to forbid people from covering their faces during a riot or unlawful assembly. The offence carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail. Since the 1970s, various European countries has enacted laws to ban people from wearing masks to hide their personal identity at public events. As the full-face veil become a hot-button issue across Europe in the past decade, France was the first European country to ban the burka, niqabs, balaclavas, hoods and other such items in public places with a law that took effect in 2011. Those who violate the law can be fined up to 150 euros (US$166). Policeman who pointed shotgun in self-defence invited to National Day celebrations Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, a barrister by profession, said anti-mask laws in foreign countries mainly targeted Islamic extremists, not ordinary citizens. “This legislation will not solve the city’s problems, it will just add fuel to the fire. When people are witnessing police officers’ brutality, and their refusal to identify themselves, why on earth would you want a law restricting people from wearing masks?” he asked. Yeung added: “The pro-government camp just keeps proposing different means and tools to deal with this unprecedented political problem in Hong Kong. Why don’t they just sit down and ask Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to solve the problem with political means?” Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, a masked protester, who refused to give his real name, said rather than being scared by demonstrators, pro-Beijing lawmakers should ask why police officers were not required to show their identification numbers while using lethal weapons. He also said protests against the government would not end even if an anti-mask law was being enacted. “It will only cause more anger,” he said. Chow said the DAB was aware that such a law would not be a panacea to Hong Kong’s problems. “We need to rely on more dialogue so that social unrest will come to an end, but it does not mean that we cannot propose other measures to help,” he said. Chow hoped the government could put forward such a bill when the Legislative Council met again in October, but Yeung warned that the pan-democratic camp would strongly oppose it, should it be tabled. Hong Kong leader says city will use legal means to tackle protests Asked if the government would accept the two parties’ proposal, a spokeswoman for the Security Bureau said: “The government has been acting responsibly to deal with the current difficult time with a view to restoring public order. We do not comment on any speculation of the government’s discussions.” DAB lawmaker Elizabeth Quat and several other pro-establishment legislators had also called for an anti-mask law after a riot in Mong Kok in February 2016. During the unrest, a group of activists from localist group Hong Kong Indigenous confronted hygiene officers and police to “protect” illegal street hawkers in Mong Kok. Police operations director Alan Lau Yip-shing said at the time that under the law officers were authorised to intercept any suspicious person.