A Malaysian court fined 12 Muslims Tuesday for parading a severed cow's head during a protest against the construction of a Hindu temple last year.

The group marched the cow head to a government building where they stomped and spat on it - an offensive act to Hindus who consider the cow a scared animal.

Each of the 12 men was charged with illegal assembly and ordered to pay $320 for taking part in the protest against plans to build the temple in a Muslim-majority neighborhood.  Two others were given additional fines for sedition, or creating tension among races, and one was sentenced to a week in prison without explanation.  

The protests heightened tensions between Malaysia's Malay majority and its Chinese and Indian minority.  Hindus and Christians often complain of religious discrimination from the Muslim community.

Officials in the Malaysian state of Selangor canceled the construction of the Hindu temple shortly after the protests.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.