The State Department warned Americans Tuesday on the dangers of terrorist attacks at a conference in Cairo on controlling the world's mushrooming population.
The extremist group Gama'at Islamiyya has threatened reprisals against foreigners attending the conference, which is opposed by Muslim fundamentalist groups and the Vatican.Washington has been a target of their wrath for advocating a woman's right to make reproductive choices through contraception and abortion.
"The Department of State informs American citizens planning to attend the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo between Sept. 5 and Sept. 15 that the Egyptian terrorist group Gama'at Islamiyya has issued a public statement warning foreigners against coming to Egypt," spokesman Michael McCurry said in a prepared statement.
He said Cairo authorities have taken "extraordinary security precautions" but urged Americans to stay "in close contact" with the U.S. Embassy, to avoid the Arab group's stronghold in southern Egypt and to take "sensible precautions."
Meanwhile, Benazir Bhutto, leader of Paskistan, a country growing by 3.5 million people annually, said she is considering withdrawing from next week's conference.
A growing number of Muslim nations and groups complain that the gathering is a Western attempt to advocate immorality, and Muslim fundamentalists in Egypt step up their campaign of violence in Cairo to drive away conference participants.
The 113-page draft to be discussed at the conference has drawn wide criticism in the Islamic world and elsewhere because it encourages birth control. Muslims also have charged that the draft advocates abortion, homosexuality and premarital sex, all forbidden under Islamic Sharia, or law.
Saudi Arabia and Sudan announced their withdrawal from the conference this week, and Lebanon said Wednesday it would also stay away.