Despite rainy weather, hundreds of Tunisians did the “Harlem Shake” in front of the Ministry of Education Friday, protesting a recent call by the minister for the investigation of students who performed the dance at a suburban Tunis high school.
A crowd began to gather around 3 p.m., answering a Facebook call to perform the dance.
The head of the local police station interrupted briefly to ask who was organizing the gathering. When no one answered him, he left, only to have two police cars take his place patrolling the area.
Prompted by a pre-arranged signal, a young girl started dancing before the rest of the crowd joined in.
“We are here to protest the decision of the minister who … chose to punish the school staff and pupils over a dance,” said Asma ben Moussa, one of the student organizers.
Friday’s performance was not your usual “Harlem Shake.” The crowd chanted the Tunisian national anthem and phrases such as “Do the Harlem Shake” and “Freedom, Freedom” as passers-by cheered them on.
“We are here today to express our solidarity with the students, who might risk severe punishment because of a dance,” said Amal, a student at the event. “They only danced after all, and dancing is a form of expression. It is a way to express ourselves outside of all the political events happening in the country.”
“Everyone dances. What is the problem?” agreed Ahmed, another student. “Why didn’t they go arrest or threaten the people, who dance in weddings? These pupils did not interrupt classes to dance. They organized their event outside of school hours.”
The Minister of Education announced earlier this week that he would launch an investigation into a Harlem Shake that took place Saturday at Imam Moslem high school; he said the event showed disrespect for the educational environment.