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US warns of terror threat to religious sites in Turkey

Earlier this month protesters burned a Koran in front of Ankara’s embassy in Stockholm.

The north bank of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Aug. 30, 2011. Credit: Moyan Brenn via Wikimedia Commons.
The north bank of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Aug. 30, 2011. Credit: Moyan Brenn via Wikimedia Commons.

The U.S. Embassy in Turkey on Monday warned Americans of possible “imminent retaliatory attacks” in the country in response to several recent incidents of Koran burning in Europe.

“The U.S. government cautions its citizens of possible imminent retaliatory attacks by terrorists against churches, synagogues and diplomatic missions in Istanbul or other places Westerners frequent, especially in the [city’s] Beyoglu, Galata, Taksim and Istiklal areas,” said the embassy in a statement.

It added that Turkish authorities were investigating the threat.

Washington instructed its nationals to avoid crowds, keep a low profile, be aware of their surroundings and monitor local media for updates.

Earlier this month, demonstrators burned a Koran in front of Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. Ankara denounced the act and the granting of a permit to a group to hold the protest. The demonstration was led by Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan, who heads the Danish political party Stram Kurs (“Straight Course” or “Hard Line”).

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the vile attack on our holy book…. Permitting this anti-Islam act, which targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, under the guise of freedom of expression is completely unacceptable,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said at the time.

In response to the incident, Turks protested outside Sweden’s embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul.

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