Hamas TV Airs Anti-Israel Kids Show Despite Protest

Hamas's television station defied the Hamas-led Palestinian government on Friday by airing a show featuring a Mickey Mouse lookalike that urges children to support armed resistance against Israel.

Called "Tomorrow's Pioneers", the weekly show on Hamas's Al-Aqsa Television features a character named "Farfur", an actor dressed in a full body-suit that resembles Walt Disney's famous cartoon character.

Following complaints by Israeli watchdog groups that triggered international scrutiny, Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouthi said he asked Al-Aqsa to stop the broadcasts so the content could be reviewed.

Despite Barghouthi's call, "Tomorrow's Pioneers" went on the air as usual on Friday.

During one of the skits, Farfur told young viewers that he aspired to be like the slain spiritual leaders of Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood.

A young girl, who identified herself as Amani, called in to to the show to sing a popular Hamas song.

"Jerusalem we are coming. We will not rest and we will not be humiliated," Amani sang as Farfour danced on a stage decorated with drawings, including one of a rocket.

In previous shows, Farfur called for Israel to be vanquished and Islam to "lead the world".

The show, which airs Fridays, features a young girl in head covering and an adult moderator who instructs young viewers on Hamas's brand of Muslim piety.

Hazin al-Sharawi, the adult moderator, said during Friday's show that "the Jews, the Jews don't like Palestinians." Al-Aqsa Television is part of Hamas's media campaign for political dominance over Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's secular Fatah faction.

Fathi Hammad, chairman of Al-Aqsa Television, defended the show: "It does not violate any moral or professional standard," he told a Hamas Web site, adding it would not be withdrawn or its content changed.

Abbas supports a two-state solution to the conflict, with a Palestinian state in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza, alongside the Jewish state.

Hamas's charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. Hamas leaders have offered a long-term truce with Israel in return for a viable Palestinian state.

Palestinian political analyst Hani Habib said the Al-Aqsa show was a Hamas recruitment tool.

"This programme markets death when a child is supposed to have a long future to come."

But 10-year-old fan Hanin, said the show was mostly educational. "The show teaches us to recite the Quran, to pray and to speak in formal Arabic. We want the show to continue."

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