Embassies in Turkey warn against 'terror attacks' especially in places of worship

Three embassies have warned their citizens against possible terror attacks in Turkey, especially in places of worship, following Danish far-right political party leader Rasmus Paludan’s protests of burning copies of the Quran.

Duvar English - Reuters

Three Western embassies on Jan. 27 warned their citizens against possible terror attacks in Turkey especially in places of worship.

The warnings of the U.S., French and German embassies came after the far-right anti-immigrant politician Rasmus Paludan burned copies of the Quran in Sweden and Denmark to protest against Turkey and Sweden's bid to join NATO.

“In the wake of recent Quran-burning incidents in Europe, the U.S. government cautions its citizens of possible retaliatory attacks by terrorists against places of worship in Türkiye.  Terrorists could attack with little or no warning, targeting places of worship or places Westerners frequent,” the U.S. Embassy said.

“As the security alert issued by the US Embassy in Ankara on Jan. 27, 2023 reminds, the risk of terrorist attacks in Turkey is already high. French people residing in Turkey or those who will travel to Turkey are kindly requested to pay maximum attention to their safety by staying away from crowded areas frequented by foreigners, including religious places,” the Embassy of France said.

“After the burning of the Quran, the risk of terrorist attacks in Turkey is increasing according to the assessment of security officials. Therefore, be especially vigilant and careful when visiting facilities open to international visitors, and avoid crowds, public places, and especially places of worship, if possible,” the German Embassy noted.

Paludan plans to protest outside the Turkish embassy in Copenhagen every Friday until Turkey accepts Sweden's NATO application.

On the other hand, Sweden's foreign ministry on Jan. 28 warned Swedes in Turkey to avoid crowds and demonstrations.

"Swedes in Turkey are asked to stay updated on the development of events and to avoid large gatherings and demonstrations," the foreign ministry said on its advice page for Swedes abroad. "Continued demonstrations can be expected outside the embassy in Ankara and the consulate general in Istanbul in the coming days."

Sweden and Finland applied last year to join NATO following Russia's invasion of Ukraine but all 30 member states must approve their bids. Turkey has said Sweden in particular must first take a clearer stance against what it sees as terrorists, mainly Kurdish militants and a group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt.

Finland and Sweden signed a three-way agreement with Turkey in 2022 aimed at overcoming Ankara's objections to their membership of NATO. Sweden says it has fulfilled its part of the memorandum but Turkey is demanding more, including extradition of 130 people it deems to be terrorists.

After Paludan’s protests, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Sweden should not expect Turkey's support for its NATO membership.