To protest China's abuse of power in its battle against terrorism, artist Ai Weiwei posted a photo to Instagram last week of himself making a "gun" with his leg. Since then, thousands of similar poses have flooded Instagram, which, unlike Facebook and Twitter, is not blocked in China.
Ai has been regramming hundreds of the photos, tagged #endgunviolence #gunleg and #gunviolence. The BBC notes that almost 10,000 leg gun photos have been shared so far.
In an interview with the AP yesterday, Ai explained, "People from all over the world have been experiencing panic because of terrorist attacks such as 9/11 and problems such as the existence of weapons. Power is being overused in the name of counterterrorism."
Just yesterday, the Chinese government executed 13 suspected terrorists, all of whom are believed to come from the Uyghur minority, a Muslim population. Uyghurs have been facing increasingly widespread discrimination in the country in the wake of two high-profile terrorist attacks this year. "Power is being used in the name of protecting you," Ai told the AP. "But what the authorities are actually doing is something which deserves a lot of discussion."
It's not clear if all those sharing leg gun photos feel the same way as Ai. Many of the photos feature children. Some Instagram users have submitted more artistic drawings or manipulations of action figures.
On the Chinese messaging app WeChat, user mobdance58 writes, "Could never master the harlem shake and was never one for planking — my legs have never felt so powerful before."