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Hamas kids TV show with militant mouse to air Friday

Story Highlights

NEW: It's unclear if Al-Aqsa TV will make any requested changes to kids' show
• Official first reported show canceled; TV rep says official "misunderstood"
• "Farfour," a Mickey Mouse look-alike, tells children to drink milk, take up arms
• Walt Disney's daughter told newspaper the show represents "pure evil"
From Atika Shubert
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A Hamas-produced children's television show featuring a Mickey Mouse-like character urging children to take up arms will air as scheduled on Friday, Al-Aqsa Television said Thursday.

It is not clear if the station will grant a Palestinian official's request for changes.

Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti initially said the show had been shelved and that Al-Aqsa TV had agreed to do a "full revision."

"We communicated with the station as soon as this was brought to our attention, and the station has informed us that they will stop it immediately," Barghouti initially said. (Watch the mouse dance as a child sings about an AK-47 Video)

Al-Aqsa TV said later, however, that the show will be broadcast at 4 p.m. (9 a.m. ET) Friday.

According to the Web site of the Middle East Times, a Cyprus-based Egyptian newspaper, an Al-Aqsa TV representative said the station will continue 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 Thursday 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."

Barghouti, who is politically independent from the fractious Hamas and Fatah parties, said he personally requested the changes after an episode made global headlines.

Barghouti said Al-Aqsa TV was cooperating. But it is unclear what, if any, revisions will be made.

The station's deputy manager, Hazem Shaarawi, insisted the show is "about Palestinian kids."

"They express their feeling regarding what they witness -- if it's occupation it's about that, and about the prisoners and how to lead the world," Shaarawi said.

Barghouti said the Palestinian Authority licensed the Hamas-owned station last week and has been working with station managers to temper some of the programming.

'Tomorrow's Pioneers'

The show, "Tomorrow's Pioneers," aired in Gaza on the Al-Aqsa TV station, which is owned by Hamas, an Islamic militant group that controls the Palestinian government and has called for the destruction of Israel.

The show features a person in a giant black-and-white costume that looks like Walt Disney's cartoon character Mickey Mouse. In the episode, Farfour dances with an imaginary gun in his gloved hands and encourages kids to drink milk, study hard -- and engage in violent acts of "resistance" against their Israeli neighbors and America.

The episode, concerns of which were first raised by Palestinian Media Watch and Middle East Media Research Institute, showed Farfour cheering for Islamic supremacy, saying, "We will win, Bush! We will win, Condoleezza [Rice]!"

Palestinian Media Watch spokesman Itamar Marcus called the program dangerous.

"The danger is its mixing of the poison with the [milk], and the child doesn't even realize that he's being poisoned," Marcus said.

Although Barghouti called the show's content "very unfortunate," he also said the show is indicative of Palestinian struggles against Israeli occupation.

"Fishermen are shot at when they try to fish. The passages are closed. People cannot move freely from, in, or out of Gaza," he said. "It's a situation of imprisonment for years. And that oppression, this apartheid system, of course drives people crazy and creates certain reactions as the one you have seen."

Both Al-Aqsa TV and Hamas refused to comment.

Walt Disney's sole surviving daughter, Diane Disney Miller, on Tuesday told the New York Daily News the show "is just going against the grain of humanity."

"What we're dealing with here is pure evil and you can't ignore that," Miller was quoted as saying on the Daily News Web site.

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