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Ai Weiwei Withdraws Works in Denmark Due to Immigration Law

Chinese activist and artist Ai Weiwei addresses journalists during a news conference in Athens, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. The Chinese artist visited the island of Lesbos is solidarity with refugees and migrants who continue to arrive on a daily basis hoping to make their way into Europe.

Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei is withdrawing his works from two museums in Denmark to protest a new law that allows Danish authorities to seize valuables from migrants.

Ai announced on social media Wednesday that he no longer wanted to have his works on display at the Aros museum in Aarhus and the Faurschou Foundation in Copenhagen.

Curator Jennie Haagemann told AP that Ai called the owner of the Faurschou Foundation to inform him of his decision. The museum had been planning to extend a popular exhibition of Ai's works until April, but ended it with immediate effect, Haageman said.

"One could say it's a shame because Ai Weiwei's art is so much about freedom and humanity,'' she said, adding that the owner respected Ai's decision.

Aros museum officials said they didn't know anything beyond what Ai had posted on Twitter and Instagram. His works were part of the museum's ongoing exhibition "A New Dynasty — Created in China.''

Museum director Erlend Hoeyersten said he has "great respect'' for Ai's criticism of Danish immigration policies, "but I also find it unreasonable that an entire people is punished for the government's policies.''

Danish lawmakers on Tuesday adopted a new law that gives police the right to seize valuables above 10,000 kroner ($1,500) from asylum-seekers to help cover their housing and food costs while their cases are being processed. It also extends from one year to three the period that family members must wait before they can join a refugee in Denmark.

Human rights activists say the new rules are degrading to people who have fled war and poverty.

Danish government officials say similar rules already apply to Danes, who must sell assets worth more than 10,000 kroner before they can receive social benefits.