Harlem Shake, North Africa Protest Edition

Internet culture and the memes it generates can be a wonderful thing. The swiftness with which something happening in one part of the world takes hold in another and many points in between constantly amazes.

Take The Harlem Shake, begun in Australia, emulated about everywhere from the Miami Heat in their locker room to a bunch of folk on a plane.

Better though, from Tunisia and Egypt where protesters have appropriated the dance and are using it to demonstrate against conservative Islamists.

Via The New York Times:

Hundreds of protesters danced outside the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, and students and ultraconservative Islamists known as Salafists clashed in Sidi Bouzid, the Tunisian town where the wave of uprisings in the Arab world began with a very different gesture of defiance.

The clashes in Tunisia came one day after conservative Salafists had tried and failed to stop the recording of a “Harlem Shake” video at a language school in the capital, Tunis.

The rally by about 400 activist dancers in Cairo on Thursday night, outside the offices of President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, was streamed live to the Web by activists and caught on video by the news site Egyptian El Badil.

The protest in Egypt followed the arrest last week in Cairo of four pharmaceutical students. They were charged with violating the country’s decency laws by dancing in their underwear to emulate the Australian “Harlem Shake” video that sparked the craze and has been viewed more than 18 million times in the past four weeks.

The version I’ve embedded here is from a small gathering in Tunisia with some dancers wearing thobes and fake beards to imitate their country’s conservatives. It starts with a few seconds of Gangnam Style before moving into the Harlem Shake which I find an impressively deft comment on how quickly our global culture moves from meme to meme and appropriates them as our own.

For other examples from larger demonstrations, visit The New York Times — Michael