HAIFA, Israel — An art exhibit in Israel featuring a crucified Ronald McDonald has sparked protests by the country’s Arab Christian minority.

Hundreds of Christians calling for the removal of the sculpture, entitled “McJesus,” demonstrated at the museum in the northern city of Haifa last week. Israeli police say rioters hurled a firebomb at the museum and threw stones that injured three police officers. Authorities dispersed the crowds with tear gas and stun grenades.

Church representatives brought their grievances to the district court Monday, demanding that it order the removal of the exhibit’s most offensive items, including Barbie doll renditions of a bloodied Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

Museum director Nissim Tal said that he was shocked at the sudden uproar, especially because the exhibit – intended to criticize what many view as society’s cult-like worship of capitalism – had been on display for months. It has also been shown in other countries without incident.

The protests appear to have been sparked by visitors sharing photos of the exhibit on social media.

Christians make up a tiny percentage of Israel’s Arab minority and say they face unique challenges.

“We need to understand that freedom of expression is interpreted in different ways in different societies,” said Wadie Abu Nassar, an adviser to church leaders. “If this work was directed against non-Christians, the world would be turned upside down.”

Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev, who has been accused of censorship for pushing legislation mandating national “loyalty” in art, also called for the removal of the “disrespectful” artwork.

The museum has refused to remove the artwork, saying that doing so would infringe on freedom of expression. But following the protests, it hung a curtain over the entrance to the exhibit and posted a sign saying the art was not intended to offend.

“This is the maximum that we can do,” Tal said.