KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — Putrajaya has today distanced itself from some of the public sentiments during the “Freedom for Palestine” rally on Sunday, saying they do not reflect the stance of the government and Muslim community towards Palestine.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said any restrictions by organisers Viva Palestina Malaysia (VPM) and Humanitarian Care Malaysia (MyCare) were in response to what was happening during the rally, rather than being imposed by the government.

“In this Parliament, I stress that, I stand by the government’s position and deliver it with full responsibility. Our recognition of Palestine, our sympathy for them, no one can dispute. I believe Machang and their friends over there hold the same position,” he told the Parliament, referring to the Opposition.

Saifuddin said any question about Putrajaya not publicly condemning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should not arise, as its recognition of the Palestinian struggle shows that Malaysia does not support Israel and Netanyahu.

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Saifuddin was responding in the Minister’s Question Time, to Bersatu’s Machang MP Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal who asked if there were any guidelines that prevent certain things from peaceful assemblies.

Yesterday, VPM reportedly apologised after the solidarity rally for Palestine it organised on Sunday came under heavy criticism.

The VPM and its chairman Datuk Musa Mohd Nordin were accused of being condescending and stand-offish towards attendees including Palestinians at the gathering, in addition to disallowing attendees from chanting the “takbir”.

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Saifuddin said the chant should not be the main focus, when compared to the lives of the Palestinians.

“What is the main issue? [The] solidarity with the Palestinians... the lives of two million people who are at risk, removing people from Gaza, this is what the prime minister has done, being the coordinator for the Asean side. Whether or not we can chant the ‘takbir’ [during a peaceful gathering] that is not the main issue. ‘Takbir’ means chanting the greatness of Allah, there is no dispute between us.

“In regards to this, it is according to the discretion of the organiser and their understanding. Machang, you can organise a gathering of 10,000 or 20,000, if I have time I will come along, and I will chant takbir as loud as possible,” Saifuddin added.

On Sunday, thousands of Malaysians thronged the Dataran Merdeka in solidarity with Palestine following Israel’s latest backlash and imminent intrusion into northern Gaza, including PKR’s Nurul Izzah Anwar and Fahmi Fadzil.

Tonight, a solidarity mega gathering will be held at Axiata Arena, Bukit Jalil, with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim expected to attend.