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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2007, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
Hamas told to axe children's show
Mickey Mouse
Hamas' Farfur looks very similar to Disney's Mickey Mouse (pictured)
The Palestinian government has asked a Hamas-affiliated TV station to shelve a children's programme accused of spreading Hamas' political agenda.

The programme, Tomorrow's Pioneers, features a Mickey Mouse lookalike named Farfur, who Israeli groups say promotes anti-Israel and anti-US sentiment.

The Palestinian information minister said the programme took a "mistaken approach" to the political situation.

It was not clear if the al-Aqsa TV station would comply with the request.

"The programme will continue and it will be broadcast tomorrow at 1600 (1300 GMT)," a senior station official told the AFP news agency without giving his name.

Legal question

Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti said that he had ordered the show stopped so that its contents could be reviewed.

We will return the Islamic community to its former greatness, and liberate Jerusalem, God willing, liberate Iraq, God willing

"I urged that Hamas suspend the programme and they have withdrawn it, because it was wrong to use a programme directed at children to convey political messages," he said.

He said he supported freedom of speech, but that any media outlet violating Palestinian broadcasting law would be punished.

However, he expressed some disappointment that Western media outlets had widely reported the Farfur story but did not report material his ministry had sent them regarding Israeli activities in the West Bank.

'Liberate Jerusalem'

Tomorrow's Pioneers is accused of using Farfur and a co-host, Saraa, to convey Hamas' political agenda to children.

In one recent show, Farfur said: "You and I are laying the foundation for a world led by Islamists," the Associated Press reported.

"We will return the Islamic community to its former greatness, and liberate Jerusalem, God willing, liberate Iraq, God willing, and liberate all the countries of the Muslims invaded by the murderers," Farfur continued.

Children were also invited to call into the show and sing songs about resisting Israel.

The Israeli organisation, Palestinian Media Watch, said that Farfur took "every opportunity to indoctrinate young viewers with teachings of Islamic supremacy".

Hamas shares political power in the Palestinian Authority with Fatah but refuses to accept Israel's right to exist. It controls al-Aqsa television and radio.

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