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The ‘Harlem Shake’ is becoming a new form of protest in the Middle East

The ‘Harlem Shake’ is becoming a new form of protest in the Middle East

Earlier this week, we reported on the controversy in Tunisia and Egypt over some “Harlem Shake” videos, which have provoked arrests and an investigation by the Tunisian Ministry of Education, and the follow-up Harlem Shake protests Egyptians and Tunisians were planning.

Well, they happened.

The video above is from Cairo, outside the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood. Another protest took place outside the Ministry of Education in Tunis, though rain deterred some dancers.

The videos are spreading (here’s one from another school, Tunisia’s Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology), as is the backlash. Salafist groups have tried to intimidate students making Harlem Shake videos, and, at one school, a protest broke out that was dispersed by police with tear gas.

The videos are clearly becoming more political. In the video from Egypt, for example, a protester is wearing a large fake beard to mock conservative critics. And in the videos from Tunisia there are a number of protesters wearing the Guy Fawkes and gas masks that were popular during the Arab Spring protests of 2011. Unlike so many other flash-in-the-pan memes, the Harlem Shake might be around for a while — especially if politicians in Egypt and Tunisia keep trying to get rid of it.