President Barack Obama has warned that a Florida pastor's plan to burn copies of the Koran is being used as an al-Qaeda recruitment tool.
Terry Jones, the leader of a tiny Protestant church in Gainesville, Florida, is planning to burn copies of the Islamic holy book on Saturday on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
Mr Obama said: "This is a recruitment bonanza for al-Qaeda. You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who would be willing to blow themselves up in American cities or European cities."
Foreign Secretary William Hague called Mr Jones' plans "selfish and provocative in the extreme", adding the idea was "offensive not just to Muslims but to all supporters of religious freedom and tolerance worldwide".
The international police agency Interpol has warned governments worldwide of an increased risk of attacks on innocent people if the burning goes ahead.
"If the proposed Koran burning by a pastor in the US goes ahead as planned, there is a strong likelihood that violent attacks on innocent people would follow," Interpol said in a statement, adding that it was acting partly on a request from Pakistan.