CAIRO (Ma’an) -- An Egyptian security source said officials had declared a state of alert at the Suez Canal on Saturday, coinciding with the commemoration of the World Trade Towers attack on 11 September 2001.
The source said the increased security alert was a response to warnings delivered by a Florida pastor, who announced earlier in the week that he intended to burn 200 copies of the Muslim holy book as a commemoration of the event.
Despite universal condemnation of the announcement, and attempts by US President Barack Obama, as well as US military officials, and a condemnation from the Council of Middle East Churches, all attempting to prevent the burnings, the pastor told assembled news crews on Friday that he may in fact go ahead with the project.
The pastor's threat and the media coverage around it have inflamed American anti-Muslim rhetoric, despite a growing number of individuals who urged calm. Obama himself warned that inflammatory actions like those proposed by the pastor, could endanger lives in the Middle East, including those of US soldiers.
Following the publication of cartoons depicting the Muslim Prophet Mohammed in a September 2005 issue of a Danish newspaper, anger spread throughout the Muslim world. Demonstrations against what many saw as an insult to the Islamic faith - which prohibits the depiction of its prophet - resulted in what the BBC estimated was 100 deaths.
The Suez Canal, the only sea passage linking the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, is seen as a target for attacks based on its strategic location and connection between the Middle East and Europe.