"(A Molotov cocktail) is an improvised weapon that is often used in riots and acts of sabotage because it is easy to make and use,'' according to an article in Tunisian children's magazine Qawz Quzah.
A how-to guide on putting together a Molotov cocktail is not something you would expect a children’s magazine to feature, but that is exactly what recently ran in "Qawz Quzah," a popular Tunisian magazine whose name means "rainbow" in Arabic and is aimed at children aged five to 15.
“(A Molotov cocktail) is an improvised weapon that is often used in riots and acts of sabotage because it is easy to make and use,'' reads the article, which came complete with detailed instructions on how to make a Molotov cocktail and appeared in the latest edition of Qawz Quzah.
The article, which appeared in a section of the publication called "Knowledge Corner," touched a raw nerve in a country still struggling to tame the unrest stirred up by last year's successful revolution, the first of the Arab Spring. The government on Monday announced that it would prosecute the popular magazine for running it.
Tunisia's revolution led to the democratic election of a transitional government headed by the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, but violence persists among extreme religious groups. Molotov cocktails have been the weapon of choice in these confrontations.
A 'professional mistake'
Speaking from Tunis, Rabii Kalboussi, a journalist working for the English-language website Tunisia Live, told NBC News that the story has provoked a stronger reaction abroad than it has inside the country itself.
“No one knows why such an article was published. It is a kids' magazine, so I don't think there are political intentions behind it,” he said.
“I don’t believe the government is really aware of the impact these things have on children, especially if they are regular readers of the magazine,” Kalbous added.
On Tuesday, the magazine’s editor-in-chief Monji Chebbi was forced to apologize on Tunisian television for what he described as a “professional mistake.”
The Ministry for Women and Family Affairs said the article “encourages violent and terrorist thought'' and it also endangers children's lives by “encouraging the use of Molotov cocktails in acts of vandalism or terrorism."
The Molotov cocktail was named after Vyacheslav Molotov, the Soviet foreign minister during the 1950s. It is a general term used to describe improvised incendiary devices.
NBC’s Charlene Gubash and Reuters contributed to this report.
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