The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan says an American church's plan to burn Korans on September 11 could endanger U.S. troops and damage the overall war effort in that country.
General David Petraeus warned Tuesday the planned burning of the Muslim holy book could be exploited by the Taliban for propaganda purposes. He said it could stoke anti-U.S. sentiment not only in Afghanistan, but across the Muslim world.
Iran warned Tuesday that the planned Koran burning could lead to uncontrolled emotions in Muslim countries.
The Dove World Outreach Center, a small evangelical church in Florida, says it plans to burn copies of the Koran to mark the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The church has a right to do so under the U.S. constitution's First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech.
Its pastor, Terry Jones, said he takes General Petraeus' warning very seriously, but that the church would go ahead with the Koran burning. The U.S. embassy in Kabul condemned the plan as an "act of disrespect" toward Islam.
The embassy said it is "deeply concerned" about the deliberate attempts to offend members of religious or ethnic groups.
The Florida church has been denied a local government permit to set a fire for the burning of the Korans, but has vowed to go ahead with it anyway.
Hundreds of Afghans took to the streets in the capital, Kabul, Monday to protest the plan. The protesters chanted "Death to America" as they rallied outside a mosque.
Similar protests were held outside the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia on Saturday.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.