ISTANBUL (AP) – Turkey issued a travel warning late Saturday for its citizens living in or planning to go to European countries, citing Islamophobia and anti-Turkish demonstrations.
The warning comes after protests last weekend in Sweden where an anti-Islam activist burned a Koran and pro-Kurdish groups protested against Turkey.
Turkey’s foreign ministry urged its citizens to take precautions and stay away from demonstration areas. They were also told to contact local authorities if they faced xenophobic or racist attacks.
Turkey strongly condemned the burning of the Koran by far-right activist Rasmus Paludan in Stockholm, which he repeated in Copenhagen on Friday. Ankara also summoned the Dutch ambassador after another far-right activist tore up pages of the Koran in The Hague.
The Turkish government also said there had been a rise in anti-Turkish protests by “groups linked to terrorist groups” – a reference to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey. Pro-Kurdish groups demonstrate in Sweden, waving the flags of the PKK and its affiliates. The protests are in response to promises by Sweden and Finland to prevent PKK activities in their countries in order to gain Turkey’s approval for their NATO bids.
After the protests, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sweden not to expect support for its bid to join the military alliance. Turkey also postponed indefinitely a key meeting in Brussels to discuss Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership.