Macedonian Christian church set alight in inter-religious incident
SKOPJE, Macedonia — An Orthodox Christian church was set alight in southern Macedonia amid religious tension between Christians and Muslims over a carnival in which Orthodox Christian men dressed as women in burqas and mocked the Quran, authorities said.
Firefighters extinguished the fire late Monday in the two-century-old Sveti Nikola church, known for its valuable icons. They said the roof of the church, near the town of Struga, was destroyed but its icons were not damaged.
Hours before the fire, Muslim leaders had appealed for calm among community members.
The Jan. 13 Vevcani festival prompted angry, sometimes violent demonstrations by Muslims, who make up 33 percent of the country's 2.1 million population and accuse the majority of stoking hatred against them.