Tunisian Minister of Education Abdeltif Abid has launched an investigation into a “Harlem Shake” video that was performed and filmed Saturday in a Tunisian high school, and threatened to take action against what he said was a violation against the educational system.
“This event was allowed by the director of the school, who gave permission to hold such an event without asking permission from the regional director or ministry,” Abid said yesterday in an interview with Mosaique FM. “An investigation will be launched and measures will be taken against any kind of violations.”
Hafedh Mesrati, a teacher from Imam Moslem high school, told Mosaique FM today that a pupil had asked the director whether students could organize the dance, but the director was called away for a family funeral before giving permission.
“When she left the high school on Saturday, there were no pupils inside,” Mesrati said. “On her way to the funeral, the director got a call from the school guard who told her a group of pupils came.”
The director told the students not to do anything until she returned, but they went ahead and filmed the video, Mesrati explained.
Following the viral rise of the Harlem Shake, students at several Tunisian high schools and universities have choreographed their own versions of the dance trend. Although it has been performed at The Pioneer Secondary School of Monastir, Isamm (Higher Institute of Multimedia Arts), and INSAT (National Institute of Applied Sciences and Technologies), the Harlem Shake organized at Imam Moslem sparked controversy. The video was taken off YouTube, although it has subsequently been reposted.
”What happened is an insult to the educational message and whoever contributed will be held responsible,” Abid said.
Facebook users reacted to the minister’s statements by launching a call for a mass Harlem Shake in front of the Ministry of Education this Friday. According to those organizing the event, several Tunisian high schools have witnessed events disruptive to the educational process in recent months, including Salafist meetings held outside a high school at El Mourouj 4 and the replacement of the Tunisian flag with a black flag reading “Al-Shahada” at another school. Yet the Minister of Education did not decide to investigate this incidents, they claimed.
“This is an internal affair that needs to be addressed within the educational board of the school,” Mesrati said, “not an issue to be politicized.”
He continued, ”this morning, pupils at the Imam Moslem high school refused to enter their classes because they felt offended by the minister’s allegations. We ask the minister to intervene and calm the situation. It is not in the benefit of the educational system to have the minister triggering tension.”