March 6th, 2013
09:40 AM ET

Harlem shaking the Arab world?

For more Last Look, watch GPS, Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

In America, "Harlem Shake" may be the top pop single. In Egypt and Tunisia, there's some serious Harlem shaking going on. And it's causing leaders to tremble as it becomes a potent symbol of protest, revolt and defiance.

Take the kids in the video at a school in Tunisia. They danced en masse to the song and posted their exploits on YouTube. That prompted a quarter of a million hits and reports of an investigation by the country's minister of education and that prompted a backlash. Video after video after video of Tunisians proudly doing the Harlem shake in defiance.

More from CNN: What the Shake has to do with Harlem

And then there's Egypt, where the authorities went further and the backlash was worse. Four pharmaceutical students were arrested for doing this Harlem shake in front of the pyramids, and that set off a big reaction. Late in the week in Cairo, there was a mass shake in front of the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters to protest.

Now, who says America's popular culture exports have no value?

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Topics: Arab Spring • GPS Show

soundoff (316 Responses)
  1. strangetimes

    This isn't freedom of expression this is just simply acting stupid and childish. There are other ways to protest your feelings than embarrassing yourself. In the past there were many respectable reformers and speakers and honorable people. Things were done with maturity and seriousness, but the world has really grown immature and out of control. You can barely find a traditional society anymore with simple values, the world is eroding. I feel sorry for the generations of kids that must grow up in this kind of world. No class. Do you want to act like people or animals? I think we know the answer already. God help us.

    March 11, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Reply
    • Pat

      I see your point, but you have to remember that in the Arab world there society is so repressive from any form of expression: dancing, western music and modest clothing, that these spontaneous outbursts might be fairly effective in terms of a protest against the repressive and backward idealogies of Islam.

      March 11, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Reply
    • Pat

      I do see your point. But you have to remember that in the Arab world their society is so repressive that any form of expression: dancing, western music and dressing provocatively, would be considered a protest. Since the Harlem Shake incorporates all of these elements, even these isolated spontaneous outbursts might be fairly effective in terms of a protest against the repressive and backward idealogies where these people live.

      March 11, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Reply
  2. Pat

    The headline says the North Korean's cut the phone line to the hotline. I thought they only had 1 phone in NK.
    If NK were a capitalist country the people working for the North Korea Bell would all be out a job.

    March 11, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Reply
  3. EntoyDaDragoN

    Muhammad is Shaking in his grave right now! Shake! Shake! Shake!

    March 12, 2013 at 5:40 am | Reply
    • Ayatollah ben Dover

      Sharia don't like it? Rock the Casbah.

      March 13, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Reply
  4. flawednot

    @maryam up there aways -- I am gay, I am not flawed. Thanks anyway.

    March 12, 2013 at 11:52 am | Reply
  5. Berman

    It's amazing that people would get arrested for dancing. I mean, seriously????

    March 12, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Reply
  6. HBar

    Yeah, and The Mighty Wurlitzer plays on. These people are pawns of the CIA.

    March 12, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Reply
    • Pat

      HBar your CIA comment is ludacris, but I believe there must be something that you really fear in these protests, otherwise you would not lash out with another inane conspiracy theory such as this. Is it possible that modernity is begining to effect the Arab world? Where women will be allowed to have the same rights as men: education, driving, working and not having to cover their faces in public. This is just the beginning: the winds of change are going to start whipping through the Arab World and no one is going to be able to stop that train from finally reaching Mecca.

      March 13, 2013 at 2:12 am | Reply
      • Ayatollah ben Dover

        Hey HBar, the C.I.A. is under your bed. Go look.

        March 13, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  7. CHandler



    March 13, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Reply
  8. Mel

    None of these people are doing the Harlem Shake. They are merely duplicating a mocking of the Harlem Shake and insulting the culture of Harlem.

    March 13, 2013 at 10:56 pm | Reply
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