A popular Hamas children's television program shows a giant bunny character who is lured into stealing money — and then is sentenced by a child host to have his hand chopped off.
In the July 11 installment of "The Pioneers of Tomorrow," which aired on Al-Aqsa TV, the recurring character "Assud the Bunny" creeps away from his napping father with a handful of cash. Assud begins to second-guess his decision to steal his father's money, but Satan successfully encourages him to go through with the petty theft.
Assud then discusses his "crime" with child TV host Saraa, and a young girl is heard saying, "The Prophet Muhammad said: 'If my daughter Fatima had stolen, I would have chopped off her hand. If you were in Saudi Arabia now, they would chop off your hand.'"
A heated debate follows between Saraa and two young viewers, who discuss whether Assud deserves to have his hand chopped off. (Under strict Sharia law, a person caught stealing is subject to having his hand amputated.)
In the end, Assud vows never to repeat his sin and pleads with his young counterparts until they consider his repentance, according to The Middle East Media Research Institute, a media monitoring group that provided a translation of the show.
Luckily, Saraa has just the right compromise to resolve the conflict.
"Well, if we don't chop off his hand, maybe we should chop off his ear?"
While such children's programs are considered shocking for U.S. audiences, they are widespread and popular in Arabic culture. Other characters on the network have included a "Farfour the Mouse," a militant Mickey Mouse look-alike who martyrs himself fighting Israel, and "Nahoul the Bee," designed to inspire future homicide bombers.
A March 30 program, also aired on Al-Aqsa television, showed a boy stabbing President Bush to death after exclaiming, "I will kill you, Bush, because that is your fate."