Denmark Closes Embassy in Tehran After Attacks

Denmark has temporarily closed its embassy in Iran to visitors after protesters attacked the compound with molotov cocktails, the foreign minister said Wednesday.

Dozens of protesters hurled firebombs at the embassy in Tehran on Tuesday night, but did not cause any major damage, Danish officials said. The attack came amid Muslim protests against a video showing Danish youths mocking the Prophet Muhammad.

"We closed the embassy (to visitors) for security reasons, but the ambassador and the staff continue to work in Tehran," Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said. More protests were expected Wednesday.

Moeller criticized Iranian authorities for not providing enough security around the embassy and said Iran's ambassador to Denmark, Ahmad Danialy, had been summoned Wednesday to the Foreign Ministry in Copenhagen.

"I told him that it was not acceptable. I told him that they let us down," Moeller said. He said he was not aware of any other attacks against Danish interests.

Country Watch: Denmark

The Foreign Ministry in Copenhagen also called an extraordinary meeting to discuss strategies to defuse brewing tensions with Muslim countries and avoid a repeat of the fiery protests that swept the Islamic world earlier this year after a Danish newspaper published cartoons depicting the prophet.

Moeller said Friday would be a crucial day for the latest controversy because of what hardline Muslim clerics might say at weekly prayers.

"We will find out Friday whether it will break out or fizzle," Moeller told reporters. "I hope it will fizzle based on all the contacts we have had at political and religious levels."

He said religious leaders "have a responsibility for what they urge their (followers) to do," he added.

The video, excerpts of which were aired on Danish TV last week, shows members of the youth wing of the anti-immigration Danish People's Party making drawings of the prophet. It was shot by an artist who said he infiltrated the group to expose the group's harsh tone in discussing immigrants.

"We knew it was an explosive situation," said Martin Rosengaard Knudsen, who shot the video. "The purpose was not to insult anyone but to initiate a debate on the tone in Danish politics."

The video was condemned by Muslim leaders in Egypt, Indonesia and Jordan, who saw it as another Danish insult to Islam.

The Danish government also condemned the video, which was promptly removed from two Danish Web sites, and sought to ease tensions by inviting Muslim ambassadors to discuss the matter.

Moeller also called several of his colleagues in Muslim countries to reiterate the government's condemnation, and Danish embassies abroad contacted political and religious leaders to repeat the message.

Nevertheless, a majority of Iranian lawmakers on Tuesday called on the government to sever economic relations with Denmark. Top cleric Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi called on all Muslim states to break ties with Denmark.

In January and February, massive and sometimes violent protests erupted in Muslim countries over 12 cartoons of Muhammad first published in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and reprinted in a range of Western media.

Islamic law is interpreted to forbid any depiction of the prophet for fear it could lead to idolatry.