A Palestinian activist and scholar became the target of attacks from supporters of Pakatan Harapan (PH) following a recent interview in which he suggested that Anwar Ibrahim's response to the Israeli bombardment of Gaza was inadequate, as were the responses of the three prime ministers before him.
Muslim Imran, a member of Hamas' international bureau and an advocate of the Palestinian cause who has lived in Malaysia for more than two decades, was a guest on popular political podcast Keluar Sekejap, where he spoke about the conflict in Gaza which has come under Israeli aerial bombardments with thousands of civilian casualties.
Imran said while past Malaysian leaders had been strong in their condemnation of Israeli aggression, the response this time in the face of the biggest military operation in Gaza appeared to be lagging.
"Until now, one week after the Israeli attack, the response is not what Malaysia is capable of doing," he said, recalling former leader Najib Razak's visit to Gaza in 2013, Dr Mahathir Mohamad's condemnation of Israel, as well as Muhyiddin Yassin's phone call to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah.
He said Anwar could have contacted Haniyah or President Mahmoud Abbas, but that it was not his position to tell him what to do as there could be political calculations.
"There are, of course, some handicaps, difficulties, international relations-wise, economic challenges, but Malaysia is doing way better than many other countries in the Muslim world and it can actually usher through some progress in the Muslim world," Imran, who did his PhD in Malaysian foreign policy, said.
In the podcast, Imran also recalled a conversation he had with Anwar two years ago, in which the then opposition leader said he could do a lot for the Palestinian cause if he were to become the prime minister.
He said earlier this year, he had reminded Anwar of his promise.
Extracts from the interview gained millions of views on TikTok and YouTube, with many criticising Anwar and opposition supporters linking the issue with "failed promises" back home.
Imran subsquently took to X to clarify his statements, saying his words had been taken out of context and politicised.
He said he had merely responded to a question about his expectations of the Malaysian government towards the current violence.
"I have never meant or intended to belittle the great work of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim or his government," Imran said, adding that he was convinced that Anwar was "committed to the Palestinian struggle".
Some PH supporters however continued their criticism, with a number urging Imran to "go back to Palestine".
"Just go back to your country and fight. Or else shut up," said Adzman Kamaruddin.
"Balik la kau..lahanat (Go back, you cursed)," said joesabar, while another said: "We want u deported, get the hell out of my country."
Many tweeted "shame on you", while others accused Imran of being "ungrateful" after living in Malaysia.
"You should apologise to our PMX. When you start comparing with other prime ministers, it's quite disappointing," said one post on X by an individual who appeared to be a cybertrooper.
"Don't compare PMX with others. He is much better than other PM and have done much for Palestine. Pls keep your mouth shut dude," wrote Megat Terawis.
"PMX need to fix Malaysia first, your scumbag!" posted another.
Some of the backlash was also directed at Khairy Jamaluddin and the Keluar Sekejap podcast, with users telling Imran to distance himself from the former minister who was sacked by Umno earlier this year.
One PH supporter also asked Imran if he had congratulated Anwar after his appointment to the top office last year.
"Is there any press statement from your organisation to congratulate Anwar’s unity government? Just checking," wrote Tauhid Aziz, who also uploaded a congratulatory message from the Palestinian Cultural Organisation Malaysia (PCOM) to Mahathir after he became prime minister for the second time in 2018.
Another uploaded a picture of Imran posing with Mahathir in a post implying that he was a fan of the veteran leader.
Checks however revealed that Imran, who is chairman of PCOM, had similarly congratulated Anwar last year, in a message hailing him as a "great friend of Palestine".
Another user told Imran to be grateful that he could stay in Malaysia peacefully. "Guard that mouth of yours," said Aisyah Ramizon.
X user Isketambola meanwhile questioned Imran's identity, asking: "Are you really Palestinian? You twist your word like Zionist. Shame on you."
Mohd Khairool Bin Buruhan said: "To Hamas please attack this one before you attack Israel military because this is your kind who do not know how to grateful."
Fareed Azwan went a step further, saying: "You die no one will pray for you. So just go die and shut the f*** up."
"Now I'm starting to think that you're acting & speaking like Netanyahu. You're making many Malaysians despise you, even worse, Palestine has to pay for it. Your video is now going viral. You're the cause of it. It's on you. It's on you. Damage is done. We hate you and the likes," said Seren Dipitous.