Celebrity who advised against extremism in boycotting businesses receives warning, with perpetrator threatening to slaughter his parents

PETALING JAYA: A US-based online movement to block the social media accounts of celebrities and organisations that have not spoken out against Israel in the Gaza conflict has taken a sinister turn.

Local celebrities here and their families are having their lives threatened in a Malaysian version of the Instagram movement @blockout2024my for expressing opinions on matters of concern to them.

Actor cum singer Muhammad Naim Daniel Baharin, popularly known as Naim Daniel, 26, lodged a report on May 14 at the Kajang district police headquarters after receiving threatening comments on his Instagram account.

“If I see your parents, I’ll slaughter them alive,” one comment said. Another written in Bahasa Melayu said: “Liberal policies. When you die, get help from the Zionists”.

“I was shocked at first but I knew I had to gather information about the person who taunted me. So, I looked up his profile and took screenshots of everything I needed as proof.

“The first comment was outrageous. My mom suffered an anxiety attack that same night but thankfully, we managed to overcome it.”

He said he continues to perform as usual and the incident has not impacted his professional life or reduced his 1.5 million Instagram followers.

However, he said if the public wants to participate in blockout movements, they should approach it with caution and the right objectives.

“In my posts, I only advised against extremism in boycotting businesses in Malaysia and cautioned against spewing insults targeted at unrelated matters. But some misunderstood and twisted my words to attack me.

“I emphasised the main goal of the blockout movement but many just threw insults and demeaning words at one another, which defeats the purpose.”

Naim Daniel advised those experiencing similar threats or online harassment to gather information on the perpetrators before their accounts are deactivated and inform authorities so that action could be taken.

In a follow-up to his report, Nilai district police chief Supt Abdul Malik Hasim said a 24-year-old man was held in Kamunting, Perak on May 17 after posting death threats against a celebrity.

“Police have seized a smartphone from the suspect to assist in our probe. An investigation paper has been opened under Section 507 of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1988.

“He faces a fine of up to RM50,000, one years’ jail, or both.”

Lawyer Kokila Vaani Vadiveloo said those actively participating in the movement should avoid slander, insults and threats against others.

She said such behaviour would result in action by enforcement officials and netizens must be mindful not to become overzealous in supporting any particular cause as it could lead to ramifications.

“Individuals and groups should understand the laws governing freedom of speech, defamation and incitement to ensure their words and actions comply with the laws.

“Posting death threats on social media is a serious offence, with legal implications. It could be defamatory if it is directed at a specific individual or group and contains false statements.”

She said while Malaysian laws encompass various online offences, their enforcement and interpretation may differ case by case, unlike some countries with more comprehensive laws on cyberbullying and harassment.

“Our policymakers should revise or amend existing laws to be more comprehensive and specifically target online harassment and threats.

“This should include refining definitions, broadening the scope of prohibited behaviour and addressing emerging forms of online harassment.”