JERUSALEM, July 17, 2007 -- Al Aqsa television station, run by the militant group Hamas, has come up with another controversial character for its young Palestinian viewers.
First the station brought us Farfour, the Mickey Mouse look-alike character who espoused Islamic domination and martyrdom. The character received widespread international coverage — most of it negative.
Now comes Nahoul the bee, a different animal carrying the same message of Islamic extremism and self-sacrifice.
Farfour appeared on a weekly show for children called "Pioneers of Tomorrow," broadcast every Friday from Hamas-run studios in the Gaza Strip. The show soon became a hit.
But after the widespread criticism, Hamas eventually killed off Farfour the mouse, and it was done in brutal, predictably political style. Farfour was beaten to death by an Israeli in a dispute over land.
Now, Hamas has taken over the whole Gaza Strip, and Nahoul the bee, a cousin of the dead Farfour, has just made its debut on "Pioneers of Tomorrow."
In the bee's first appearance, the show's child presenter Saraa is shown talking to Nahoul while the bee is suspended from the air.
"I want to continue in the path of Farfour, the path of Islam, of heroism, of martyrdom and of the mujahedeen. … We will take revenge of the enemies of Allah," the bee says.
It's likely Nahoul, already being called the "killer bee" by some, will attract the same level of outrage in Israel and the international community. It's not clear whether the little bee will receive the same fate as its bigger and furrier predecessor.