COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Denmark's Prime Minister on Tuesday called protests over drawings of the Prophet Muhammad a global crisis and appealed for calm.
"We are now facing a growing global crisis," Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. "It now is something else than the drawings in Jyllands-Posten."
The Jyllands-Posten, a Danish paper, first published the drawings that have sparked violent protests in Muslim countries worldwide. They have since been reprinted in media around the world.
Demonstrators in Afghanistan on Tuesday clashed with NATO forces, and three protesters were killed.
"Now it has become an international political matter," he said. "I urge calm and steadiness."
Outraged Muslim demonstrators, who have set fire to the Danish embassies in Syria and Lebanon and have held chaotic protests elsewhere, have demanded the Danish government apologize for the cartoons, which Jyllands-Posten printed in September.
But Fogh Rasmussen's statements indicated that Denmark is not contemplating changes in its strategy for responding to the spiraling tensions. Fogh Rasmussen has insisted that Denmark's press freedom culture means the government cannot apologize for what an independent newspaper does.
The newspaper has apologized for any offense caused to Muslims but has defended its printing of the drawings as a legitimate exercise in freedom of expression.
The drawings - including one depicting the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb - have touched a raw nerve in part because Islam is interpreted to forbid any illustrations of the Prophet Muhammad for fear they could lead to idolatry.
"We appeal to Muslims around the world to look beyond the headlines and the rhetoric," Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said alongside Fogh Rasmussen.
Earlier, the Foreign Ministry said the Danish embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, has been temporarily closed because of fears it would be stormed.
Niels Erik Andersen, Denmark's ambassador to Indonesia, said Muslims groups throughout Indonesia had been burning Danish flags and effigies of Fogh Rasmussen.