GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip The controversial television mascot, styled after Mickey Mouse to enlist children in their battle to establish the supremacy of Islam by force of arms, was killed off by the show's producers.
"Farfour" may mean "butterfly" in the local language, but the giant black-and-white mouse is "unmistakably a rip-off of the Disney character," according to the Associated Press. He appeared each Friday during a children's show, "Tomorrow's Pioneers" on Al-Aqsa TV, which is owned and operated by Hamas.
On June 30 the show aired its final episode showing Farfourthe Mickey Mouse look-a-likebeing beaten to death by a character posing as an "Israeli agent" who was trying to buy Farfour's land, according to a BBC report.
"Farfour was martyred defending his land," said the show's presenter Saraa. "He was killed 'by the killers of children'," she said.
Al-Aqsa Television told the Associated Press news agency the show, Tomorrow's Pioneers, was making way for new programs.
In a former episode Farfour states, "You and I are laying the foundation for a world led by Islamists," according to the AP. "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."
The program also took calls from children, many of who sang Hamas hymns about the glories of fighting Israel.
"We were appalled by the use of our character to disseminate that kind of message," Disney CEO Robert Iger said according to the AP. "I think anytime any group seeks to exploit children in that manner, it's despicable."
On May 9, Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti initially said the show had been removed from the Hamas's television station "for review," stating that the character represented a "mistaken approach" to the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation.
The channel ignored Barghouti's request and Hamas began airing the show again on May 11.
According to the Web site of the Middle East Times, a Cyprus-based Egyptian newspaper, an Al-Aqsa TV representative said the station continued to air the show and that "Barghouti misunderstood the issue." The source requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, the paper reported.
Barghouti said later he would not object to the broadcast if Al-Aqsa TV adhered to his requests that the show not politicize children and that it "stop the political approach to children."
"But this is nothing new for Hamas." Tony Perkins, Family Research Council said. "Anyone who truly believes that Islam is a religion of peace needs to wake up and realize this is no Mickey Mouse organization."