The United States has issued a global travel alert asking its citizens to exercise caution in the wake of a Florida pastor's plan to burn copies of Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, warning that it could trigger violent protests in many countries.
"The Department of State is issuing this travel alert to caution US citizens of the potential for anti-US demonstrations in many countries in response to stated plans by a church in Florida to burn Qurans on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks," the travel alert said.
Demonstrations, some violent, have already taken place in several countries, including Afghanistan and Indonesia, against Florida church's pastor Terry Jones' plans, the travel alert noted.
"The potential for further protests and demonstrations, some of which may turn violent, remains high," it warned, adding, "We urge you to pay attention to local reaction to the situation, and to avoid areas where demonstrations may take place."
The 'travel alert' expires on September 30, the statement said and reminded American nationals of the continuing threat to US interests and citizens posed by various terrorist groups, as outlined in the Department's worldwide caution.
"US government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert. These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture," the alert said.
It said the US embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to US citizens.
"US citizens abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest US embassy or Consulate," the travel alert said.
The US administration was seriously considering the option of directly reaching out to the Florida pastor to call off the planned Quran burning on the anniversary of 9/11 attacks on Saturday, amid growing fears it will unleash a wave of violence.
The pastor on Thursday announced that he was abandoning his plans, but within hours said he was "rethinking" his decision as a Florida Imam had "lied" to him that a planned Islamic centre and mosque near Ground Zero in New York would be moved to some other place.
The White House has said the burning of the religious book would be a "hateful act" and acknowledged that this would be a setback to recent American efforts to change its image in the Muslim world.