Popeye comes on too strong

Kuwait City (AFP) - The children's favourites, Tom and Jerry, and Popeye, are under attack from Islamists who have come up with their own Islamic version to combat the "devilish" influence of such cartoon capers.

The Committee of the Islamic World in Kuwait has already produced the Voyage of Salam, a cartoon adventure based on a story in the Koran.

It tells the tale of an Arab boy, Salam, who, helped by a nightingale, rescues an elephant from the clutches of Abyssinians doomed to die in a failed attack on Mecca. A second film, The Rescue Team, is already being prepared.

Many Islamic fundamentalists in Kuwait see such films as a way to counter the influence of Western cartoons, which have been a big hit in the emirate and other Gulf monarchies.

"Our aim is to present Muslim children with cartoons showing our principles and oriental ways, which are lacking in Western films," a committee member, Adel Rahman al-Ajmi, said. But for another member, Metheb al-Matiri, the antics of Western cartoon heroes "have a devilish influence over children." He said he was shocked to see on a Kuwaiti television a scene from Popeye where the sailor cast a passionate glance at Olive Oyl before locking her in an embrace.

Tom and Jerry contained scenes that were "anti-religious, such as angels shown as animals, or death cast as a black dog."

A Kuwaiti civil servant, Mohammed al-Azemi, has urged the government to "ban these unrealistic films and produce Islamic cartoons."

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