Iranian vice president denies U.S. claims

An Iranian vice president denied claims by the U.S. government that Tehran was fanning Muslim anger over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that have been published in newspapers around the world.

"That is 100 percent a lie," Isfandiar Rahim Mashaee said during a visit to Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, where sometimes violent protests against the caricatures have been held on a near-daily basis.

Dozens of Muslim hardliners turned out for a largely peaceful protest in the capital Thursday, some accusing Denmark, where the cartoons were first published, of insulting Islam.

Others shouted "Allahu akbar!" or "God is great!"

Mashaee was responding to comments by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said Iran and Syria were whipping up Muslim anger over the cartoons for "their own purposes."

Some analysts say while Muslim anger over the depiction of the prophet is undoubtedly real, some foreign governments as well as extremist groups were fanning the violent protests for political ends.

Mashasee, one of five Iranian vice presidents, repeated claims by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that the riots were part of a Jewish conspiracy, reports the AP.

I.L.