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Turkey summons ambassadors of nine countries over security alerts


Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu speaks during a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey, August 21, 2019. Ahmet Bolat/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo/File Photo

Turkey summoned ambassadors of nine countries on Thursday to demand an explanation, after countries temporarily shut diplomatic missions and issued security alerts citing a heightened threat following Koran burning incidents in Europe.

Far-right activists burned Korans in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands last week, acts that led to a halt in negotiations for Turkey to lift objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO.

The European countries have denounced the incidents but some say they cannot prevent them because of free speech rules.

Countries including France, Germany, Italy and the United States have warned their citizens of an increased risk of attacks in Turkey, particularly against diplomatic missions and non-Muslim places of worship. Germany, France and the Netherlands were among countries that temporarily closed diplomatic missions for security reasons this week.

Turkey, for its part, warned its citizens over the weekend against “possible Islamophobic, xenophobic and racist attacks” in the United States and Europe.

A Turkish foreign ministry source said ambassadors from nine countries were summoned on Thursday, but did not identify them. The U.S. embassy confirmed that its ambassador attended a meeting at the ministry. Two European diplomatic sources said ambassadors from Germany, France and the Netherlands were also summoned.

Ruling AK Party spokesperson Omer Celik dismissed security alerts as “irresponsible statements”, adding that Turkey was a safe country.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said some temporary closures of some Western countries’ consulates due to security concerns were aimed at launching a psychological war against Turkey.