‘Harlem Shake’ Videos Provoke Tunisian Battles

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Opinions over the videos have been split, with some calling it immoral and provocative — even going so far as to call the students unbelievers and therefore marked for death — while others seeing it as typical of humor in Tunisia, where many retain strong secular tastes.

The video sparked an angry reaction from Minister of Education Abdellatif Abid, who last week announced an investigation of the principal of the school for allowing an “indecent” video to be filmed on the premises.

As students elsewhere across the country have tried to create videos of their own, they have often been attacked by religious conservatives.

In the coastal city of Mahdia, one student received 12 stitches on his head after being beaten following one of the attacks. In the southern commercial city of Sfax and in the resort city of Sousse, police have had to intervene and separate groups battling over the right to make a “Harlem Shake” video.

“This dance for us represents a way to vent, to forget for a little while all the stress we’ve been under for the past year,” said Sabiha, a 21-year-old university student who protested Friday in front of the Education Ministry against the minister’s investigation, performing a version of the dance.

Her colleague Saber, 24, who also did not want his last name used because of the tensions surrounding the song, said being able to dance like this was a fruit of Tunisia’s revolution.

“We wanted to take advantage of our newfound freedoms thanks to the revolution, after the years of harassment and repression,” he said.

(Photo: AP)

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