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?

Post by:
Topics: Arab Spring • GPS Show

soundoff (316 Responses)
  1. llama cake

    Hungry Hungry Hippos! Somebody please put some peanut butter on my head!

    March 7, 2013 at 1:27 am | Reply
  2. Nick

    That's American influence in all it's glory. People used to look up to America for their defiance in the face of injustice: now America poisons the world with a culture that prompts stupidity and moral decline. I wish if a couple of the groups that have preformed this shake maybe could have taken 30 minutes of their time to protest the government not coming up with a budget and a 13% cut in social and educational programs No that would be to lame, extreme and just being a stick in the mud.

    March 7, 2013 at 3:50 am | Reply
  3. Merlin

    Personally, I fail to see the value in it, but if they want to do it, I also can't see the harm in creative expression, so long as no one is hurt by it. It is what it is, young people being young... nothing wrong with that.

    March 7, 2013 at 6:04 am | Reply
  4. Dick Cheney

    Boy I hope they don't do that shaky thing if front of the Capital!!!!!

    March 7, 2013 at 10:28 am | Reply
  5. Elpikdador

    is actually an Australian export. Song might be a USAian song but is the stunt that gave fame to the song and what people are re-creating.

    March 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Reply
  6. CW

    America used to export viable, physical goods. Now we export idiocy.

    March 7, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Reply
  7. All I see are PIGS

    "Four pharmaceutical students were arrested for doing this Harlem shake in front of the pyramids"
    What a country full of obtuse people, arresting someone for dancing in front of a ruin. Kill the heretics, make them BOW, YIELD, KNEEL BEFORE ZOD, ERR UMM GOD.
    2013 and religious zealots and dictators still rule in way too many places. Humans are a failed species.

    March 7, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Reply
  8. mitchlabuda

    Had the same thing in the 70's long hair, loud music, expressions of peace and love then, get out if don't like the country. Change is marvelous to watch

    March 8, 2013 at 8:23 am | Reply
  9. Conrad Shull

    There are Sheikhs in Harlem, now?

    March 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Reply
  10. philbo


    March 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  11. Isabel

    The only thing left to "seal the deal" is Obama breaking out in a short shake....

    March 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Reply
  12. PhillyGuy

    The sad part is that NONE OF THESE VIDEOS are showing people actually doing the Harlem Shake. Thrusting your hips from front to back IS NOT the Harlem Shake! Go watch some older HiHop videos from the early 90's and you'll see the original Harlem Shake.

    At least do it right people. But glad you're having, however wrong you are...

    March 8, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Reply
    • Ayatollah ben Dover

      The meme is to copy one particular video as closely as possible, scene by scene. Next, we're going to teach them to streak!

      March 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Reply
  13. Pat

    Any dissent in the Muslim world is a good thing!

    March 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Reply
  14. Pat

    That stupid dance! What a bunch of followers you guys are.
    Look, It's the African ant eater ritual!
    But at the end of the day "Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come." It's time that the people of the Muslim world wake up from history.

    March 8, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  15. Pat

    This is the reason why we keep seeing such unrest in the countries where the Arab Spring occurred.
    The problem is the population in these countries knows this is what they fought for, but since so little has actually changed they are still restless. Compared to the changes that occurred in Eastern Europe these changes are going to be monumental. They are going to change Muslim society to the point where you will not be able to tell apart a picture of the youth in a Muslim city from the youth in American one. No longer will the populace believe their leader when they tell them that their reason for their hardship is due soley to the oppression of the Palestinians in some far off land.

    March 8, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Reply
  16. sharky

    Uh you all did that already, remember, and look what you got. Keep doing it and it will get worse. You all voted in the Muslim Brotherhood. Scary how those in the west saw the bad idea in that while those in Egypt did not.

    March 8, 2013 at 7:57 pm | Reply
  17. JohnathanA

    I am so proud of the Tunisians.
    They are not separate from the rest of the world.
    They express their feelings with the Harlem Shake – how emancipated.
    All power to the people of Tunisia.

    March 8, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Reply
  18. JonGee

    CNN do your research... the end comment about "American cultural export"?
    Though the music is US, the original meme was generated by Australians

    March 9, 2013 at 7:21 am | Reply
  19. John Wayne

    Shake and dance your bootay off! Show em how it's done!

    March 9, 2013 at 7:50 am | Reply
  20. blessedgeek

    Sheikh Harlemi Al-Sheikh YaMoney, the oil minister of Saudi Arabia, wants all sheikhs in the country to learn the Harlem Sheikh.

    March 9, 2013 at 11:00 am | Reply
    • Ayatollah ben Dover

      Sheikh Yerbouti

      March 13, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Reply
  21. Sarai

    Everybody!!! Shake shake shake:)

    March 9, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Reply
  22. bigmoneyjim

    THANK YOU for ending the video and stopping instead of playing something I didn't ask for!

    Also, interesting story. Getting arrested or even investigated for having fun with video memes is a far cry from being criticized for doing so.

    March 9, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Reply
  23. Raul Mennendes

    Cordis Die my brothers!

    March 10, 2013 at 3:16 am | Reply
  24. Slammy

    I thought this dance started in Austrsila, not America.

    March 10, 2013 at 10:32 am | Reply
  25. Ben Joseph

    Arabs are so backward.

    March 10, 2013 at 10:38 am | Reply
  26. indyraseigo

    Oh Allah make it stop.

    March 11, 2013 at 3:03 am | Reply
  27. Dave Allen

    Our government doesnt tell protestors to "shove it"???? Perhaps you didnt see the cops sweeping streets of Occupy activist with clubs and pepper spray.

    March 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Reply
    • Pat

      So what were they protesting?
      Was their message clear and consice as to what their demands were?
      If these things were not clear then this is where the Occupy movement fell apart. You can blame the authorities for taking a hard handed approach as much as you want, but American's know this lack of a central message is where the Occupy message fell apart. The movement was not lost at the hands of clubs or pepper spray, but instead a lack of interest by everyone, which eventually included the protesters.
      As we notice in your comment, all you even mention is the term "Occupy": Once "Occupy Wall Street" became the "Occupy Movement" – (per Wikipedia – The Occupy movement is an international protest movement against social and economic inequality). All we noticed were a bunch of lazy people who were hoping to get something for nothing.

      March 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Reply
    • Pat

      So if you are trying to save the trees, you need to make sure that most of the people that are with you are not handcuffing themselves to lamp posts!

      March 11, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Reply
  28. Pat

    That one girl was shaking it so hard that she almost experienced a burka malfunction. If you look really hard you can make out the bridge of her nose. If the ayatollah's get wind of these she will be stoned for sure.

    March 11, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6

Leave a Reply to rm13


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.