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Bush Urges End to Cartoon Violence

(CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has urged governments around the world to help end the deadly violence sparked by protests over publication of cartoons depicting the Islamic Prophet Mohammed.

The death toll from this week's violent demonstrations rose to at least 10 on Wednesday after Afghan police shot dead several protesters trying to storm a U.S. military base.

At least 700 people demonstrated peacefully in Baquba, Iraq, while in southern Afghanistan, five people died in violent riots over the cartoons.

Also Wednesday Denmark's prime minister, saying the Muslim world had "a false picture" of his country, defended it in amid the intensifying protests.

The cartoons have prompted boycotts of Danish goods throughout the Muslim world. In Dubai, travel agents said travelers were not booking flights to Denmark or Norway, where the cartoons were also published.

One of the cartoons showed Mohammed wearing a turban shaped as a bomb. Any depiction of the prophet is forbidden in Islam for fear it could lead to idolatry.

Bush, who met Jordan's King Abdullah II on Wednesday morning, urged leaders in affected nations to step in.

"I call upon the governments around the world to stop the violence, to be respectful, to protect property and protect the lives of innocent diplomats who are serving their countries overseas," Bush said, referring to the attacks on Danish and other European embassies in several capitals.

Bush said he and the king "reject violence as a way to express discontent with what may be printed in a free press."

King Abdullah said anything that "vilifies the prophet Mohammed ... or attacks Muslim sensibilities needs to be condemned," but those who choose to protest should do it "thoughtfully, articulately, express their views peacefully."

"When we see protests and destruction, when we see violence -- especially when it ends up taking the lives of innocent people -- it's completely unacceptable," he said. "Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, is a religion of peace, tolerance, moderation."

The Iraqi demonstration, organized by radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr's office, demanded an apology to all Muslims from the Danish government.

But Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said his government had nothing to apologize for.

"I think everybody should realize that neither the Danish government nor the Danish people can be held responsible for what is published in a free and independent newspaper," he told CNN.

Anyone seeking redress should turn to the courts, he said. "We do have legislation which sets certain limitations on the freedom of expression." He cited "racist and blasphemous" expressions as among those not allowed.

"It's up to the courts to decide whether the law had been infringed; it's not up to the government."

The cartoons were originally published in September in the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten. But protests against the government itself have gained in intensity in recent days after the reprinting of the caricatures in other publications.

Denmark, Rasmussen said, is not getting a fair shake. "We are portrayed as a society which is intolerant and an enemy of Islam, and it's a false picture."

Such messages -- often spread via Web logs and on cell phone messages -- have been difficult to counter, he said.

"It's really a war taking place in cyberspace, and we're not used to it."


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