Iran denies inflaming violence over cartoons

Iran on Sunday rejected US and Danish accusations that the government had inflamed and encouraged the violent protests against western embassies in Tehran last week over caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. "What happened was a natural reaction. (US Secretary of State Condoleezza) Rice and Danish officials should apologize. Such comments could worsen the situation and an apology could alleviate the tension," Hamid Reza Asefi, Iran's foreign Ministry spokesman said Sunday, referring to Rice's statements earlier this week that Iran was intentionally trying to "inflame sentiments" across the Muslim world. The cartoons, first published in a Danish newspaper in September, were seen by millions of Muslims around the world as an attack on Islam and an insult to their revered prophet.