Protesters who attended a pro-Palestine rally organised by an NGO aligned with Pakatan Harapan on Sunday were left disappointed after they were barred from attacking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden, as well as using the Islamic chant of "Allahu Akbar" (God is great).
Many took to social media to question the intention of Viva Palestina Malaysia, a group chaired by Dr Musa Nordin, a strong supporter of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
Musa had invited, among others, Anwar's daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar to speak at the rally, although the crowd was far smaller than the 30,000 people he had earlier hoped for.
Protesters also expressed shock when a group of attendees were scolded by Musa for carrying placards depicting Israeli strongman Netanyahu as the devil.
They drew comparisons with the "much larger and more enthusiastic" crowd that attended the rally in front of the US embassy on Friday.
"I have attended many rallies in support of the Palestinian cause, both in and out of Malaysia, but this was the first time we were told not to mock the main person who is leading the murderous rampage against civilians," said a 39-year-old mother of four who identified herself as Noraini.
She said it appeared that the organisers of the Viva Palestina rally were more interested in the tone and "political correctness" of the rally than sending a strong message to Israel and its supporters.
"In the end, it was like a fun afternoon walk accompanied by musical instruments and superficial slogans, so unlike the huge rallies in Western cities over the weekend," she added, referring to the pro-Palestine rally in London on Saturday that attracted more than 100,000 people.
One of the organisers told MalaysiaNow they had wanted to ensure that the rally had no "religious elements", and to attract a multiracial crowd.
"But I guess organisers were overzealous in trying to micromanage the crowd who had genuinely come to express their support," he said on condition of anonymity.
'Shame on you'
Meanwhile, Viva Palestina Malaysia's Facebook page was flooded with comments deriding the group for the manner in which protesters were treated.
Many shared pictures of the anti-Netanyahu placards that were banned at the protest, while others uploaded chants of "Allahu Akbar".
"You organise a protest but you were effeminate. Might as well organise an eating fest," said Hisham Din.
"Shame on u Dr Musa! Unfollow this page... many more NGOs that are better and more honest," wrote Muhammad Zul-Fahimy Omar.
One rally-goer also uploaded a strongly worded video clip on social media, condemning Viva Palestina and Musa's behaviour as "shameful".
"I hope you guys realise how shameful and toothless and weak your rally just now was, and you should be. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.
"Dr Musa, who are you to call the crowd 'Zionists' for bringing a placard calling Netanyahu and Biden war criminals? Who are you trying to please? You and your elitist group up on the stage, trying to micromanage the crowd... warning people not to chant 'Allahu Akbar'?
"What you should be doing is teaching the non-Muslims that 'Allahu Akbar' is not offensive, you should be teaching them that 'Allahu Akbar' is a call that unites Muslims. The rally was a failure. People did not come to a rally to protest to listen to your personal stories, this is not about you. This is about a genocide, about thousands of people killed in Palestine. You kept talking about your experience, 'my husband, my wife', nobody cares about you! The emcee lady was rude, useless and unprepared," she said in the clip that has gone viral.