Why Are People Taking These Strange 'Leg-Gun' Selfies?

Fatimah Mazhar
June 18, 2014: Contemporary artist shows a new way to protest.

Contemporary artist Ai Weiwei is known for his open criticism of the Chinese government.

His outspoken attitude and unabashed use of the internet has, on several occasions, landed him in trouble with the Chinese government, which heavily restricts, monitors and controls online activity.

However, punishment has had little effect on his will to record the wrongdoings of the Chinese authorities.

Most recently, he started collecting photos of “hand-held guns” on his Instagram feed.

Users both inside and outside China are sharing photos of themselves that look something like this:

Chinese Protest

But what could be the reason for using legs as guns?

Many users have noted that the “leg gun” is a reference to the Red Detachment of Women – a Chinese national ballet where the dancers used their legs as rifles.

Other’s believe it’s just another unorthodox way adopted by the artist to protest against the ruling Communist Party in the wake of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4.

Days after his “leg gun” Instagram became a viral meme, Ai explained in an interview with the Associated Press on Monday that he started the trend because “power is being overused in the name of counterterrorism.”

"Power is being used in the name of protecting you," he was quoted as saying.

"But what they are actually doing is something which deserves a lot of discussion. And what is terrorism doing to you? It is hurting lives? Or is it putting a huge burden on everybody?"

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Here’s what people have been posting online after Ai started his protest: