An Egyptian Islamic cleric working for the state ministry of religious endowment has used a children's television program to encourage young children to strive for holy war.
During program, made available by the Arabic translation service MEMRI,
the cleric told a story about Muslim children in history keen to "sacrifice" themselves and kill "infidels" for the cause of Islam.
"Let's listen to a very beautiful story to learn about the courage of a child, and how, when a child is brought up in a good home, and receives proper education in faith, he loves martyrdom, which becomes like an instinct for him. He can never give it up," Sheik Muhammad Nassar told children on the program, which aired on the Al-Nas television channel.
"This story, my friends, is a beautiful story. Abu Qudama was the commander of the army of the Muslims, when they fought the Byzantines. The Byzantines had a very, very large army, whereas the Muslims did not have many fighters. So Abu Qudama walked down the alleys and streets, among the poor, calling: 'Come join the Jihad,' 'Come join the Jihad,'" Nassar said.
'Take my boy to the jihad'
He continued: "A woman said to him: 'Abu Qudama, I have a boy. I will give him to you. Take him with you to war.' He asked: 'Is he still a boy?' She said: 'He is 15 years old, and his father was martyred in the previous war. Since his father's martyrdom, he sits day and night, praying that Allah grant him martyrdom.'"
The Muslim commander is described as "praising Allah" for receiving the child-soldier from his mother.
Describing the participation of children in jihad, Nassar said: " Sa'id shot the first arrow, killing one (infidel). With the second arrow, he killed another infidel, and with the third, he killed a third. Then he was hit by an arrow, and fell to the ground as a martyr. He achieved the martyrdom for which he yearned. A little later, he drew his last breath. Sa'id, the 15-year-old child, was martyred for the sake of Allah. He died happy."
On a previous broadcast on Egyptian television in 2002, a three and a half year-old girl was asked to describe Jews. "They are apes and pigs… our God said so," was her reply. The girl's answer was enthusiastically received by the program's host. "Allah be praised. May our God bless her. No one could wish for a more devout girl. May God bless her and her parents," the host said.