Thousands of Malaysians gathered for ‘Freedom with Palestine’ rally

Thousands of Malaysians showed their solidarity with Palestinians in a peaceful rally at Dataran Merdeka yesterday, 22 November 2023. The event, which is estimated to be attended by 30,000 people by the organizer, is scheduled to take place from 10 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur. Despite the scheduled time, people have been showing up at the place as early as 9 a.m. yesterday.

Two non-governmental organizations that have been actively supplying Gaza with humanitarian aid, Viva Palestina Malaysia (VPM) and MyCare, are in charge of organizing the protest. Before the rally, VPM chairman Datuk Dr. Musa Mohd Nordin said that no fundraising activities would be conducted during Sunday’s rally. The intention of the rally with the theme “Freedom for Palestine” is to end the armed strikes by Israeli forces that are still ongoing.

The attendees include Malaysians, the Palestinians themselves, and other foreigners who are on the Palestinian’s side. Various races and different religions are showing up at the place. Also, prominent figures include Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil, former Permatang Pauh member of parliament Nurul Izzah Anwar, and renowned influencer and entrepreneur Khairul Aming, who also showed up at the rally. Additionally, speakers from NGOs and members of the Muslim, Christian, and Buddhist communities all called for an end to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

At the peaceful rally, people from diverse backgrounds brought Palestine and Malaysia flags and also displayed placards with messages such as “Free Palestine,” “Stop the Genocide in Gaza,” and “We Support Palestine.” However, it is not permissible to include in the placard or yell prohibited words such as ‘hell’, ‘curse’, and ‘die’, which is understandable. However, the organizers also prohibit saying the Arabic phrase “Allahu Akbar,” which is a term used by Muslims with the meaning of “Allah is the greatest”, which received much backlash from the public.

Malaysian actor and TV host Qi Razali has responded to the prohibition, saying, “In Malaysia, we have azan five times a day. I don’t think that Allahu Akbar would offend anyone, to add more, when the victims are also Muslims.” Another famous influencer, Ceddy Ang, also mentioned on Twitter (X), “Saying Allahu Akbar should not be an issue. Maybe the organizers wanted people to respect participants from different races and religions.” He also added that he was fine with the term used by Muslims, even if he is not from that religion. He understands that other religions were not forced to use the term.

According to Dang Wangi, OCPD Asst. Comm. Noor Dellhan Yahaya, the organizers complied with the requirements of the Peaceful Assembly Act, including giving advance notice of the meeting to the police. He claimed there were no unpleasant situations during the rally’s course or at its conclusion.

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