- Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei drew backlash on Thursday for sharing a vaccine refusal meme on Instagram in which a group of men dances around atop a mountain with the on-screen caption: “My and my friends living off the grid after refusing the vaxxine [sic].”
- Ai, 64, explained the vaccine rollout should not be “compulsory” and that the decision “should belong to individuals.”
- The activist has revealed that while he has already taken his COVID-19 vaccine shots, he identifies “with those who do not want to get vaccinated.”
- Many social media users criticized the activist for his recent Instagram post, with one user writing, “I lost seven family members to this pandemic. Dancing is not the first thing I have in mind.”
Famed Chinese dissident artist and activist Ai Weiwei recently ignited outrage among his followers after sharing an anti-vaccination meme in support of his stated belief that vaccines should not be compulsory.
In an Instagram post on Thursday, Ai, 64, reshared a clip of a group of men dancing atop a mountain while playing drums. The on-screen caption read, “My and my friends living off the grid after refusing the vaxxine [sic].”
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Speaking to The Art Newspaper, Ai claimed that the compulsory vaccination drive that has been implemented in several countries – including the U.S., New Zealand, and the Philippines – is a “civil liberty issue,” adding that the decision “should belong to individuals.”
“For or against the vaccine should be individuals’ autonomous decision, made for themselves and according to their social interaction, so society does not have the right to make vaccine compulsory,” Ai said. The artist, who himself has already received his shot, said that he identifies “with those who do not want to get vaccinated.”
“If individuals are forced to be vaccinated through social pressure and public opinion, it will be a very dangerous social tendency,” Ai said.
Ai’s Instagram post was purportedly part of his social media campaign titled #RunForOurRights launched in December 2021 in support of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who is facing possible extradition to the U.S. on espionage charges.
As part of the campaign, Ai filmed himself running on the treadmill given to him by Assange in 2016 in support of human rights and freedom of the press.
Although he has amassed a strong following for his decades-long activism, many social media users slammed Ai for his recent Instagram post, with one asking if his account was hacked by “anti-vaxxers.”
Another user also shared the losses they faced during the pandemic in the post’s comment section, saying, “I lost seven family members to this pandemic. Dancing is not the first thing I have in mind.”
In an interview in November 2021, while promoting his memoir “1,000 Years of Joys and Sorrows,” Ai warned that the U.S. is already in the “authoritarian state,” but people “just don’t know it yet,” NextShark previously reported.