Former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said Umno leaders have lost their moral bearing through their subtle support for the racially-charged red shirts protest slated for Sept 16 .
The jailed PKR de facto leader, in a note released through his party, singled out Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also home minister.
"The statement by Ahmad Zahid and a few Umno leaders that Umno members are free to join the rally shows a moral failure by their party leadership," he said.
Anwar said while it is the right of all communities, including the Malays, to defend their interests, it is inappropriate to fuel racial sentiments.
"We should not fuel racial issues as planned by the red shirts gathering on Sept 16 that is objected by Islam and Malay culture," he said.
Anwar said the rally appeared to be a diversionary tactic as the current government is plagued by scandals.
"What is certain is the plan is meant to distract from the political and economic crises affecting the country.
"The rakyat should not be fooled or be taken in by such divisive tactics," he said.
Zahid had said that it was up to Umno members to decide whether to join the red shirts rally, despite police declaring that they would not give the green light.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is also Umno president, announced that there was he had no objection to Umno members wanting to join the protest but urged them to follow the law and not turn it into a platform for racism.
The red shirts rally is intended to counter the Bersih 4 protest on Aug 29 and 30, which called for Najib's resignation over the RM2.6 billion deposited into his personal bank accounts.
However, the red shirts protest has taken a racial tone, accusing Bersih 4 of being "Chinese" and calling on Malays to hold their own counter-rally.