Skopje - Macedonia's president asked religious leaders on Tuesday to help calm tensions in an ethnically mixed region of the Balkan country where a local carnival sketch that mocked Islam has angered ethnic Albanian Muslims.
The January 13 Vevcani carnival, in which an Orthodox Christian man dressed as a Muslim cleric was mocked by others wearing burqas, sparked protests in the south-western Struga region, and late on Monday a church in the area was damaged by fire.
The cause of the blaze was not known.
The carnival, held annually for hundreds of years, often has satirical sketches, including this year a mock funeral for Greece in a joking reference to that country's dire economic problems.
Macedonia still struggles with ethnic tensions more than a decade after clashes between government forces and ethnic Albanian guerrillas demanding greater rights for the 25 percent Albanian minority were narrowly prevented from escalating into civil war.