Coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, is widespread enough to claim a Wikipedia page, a dedicated Stephen King novel, and an Oscar-winning portrayal of an evil clown by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. So it should probably not surprise anyone that the world's clowns are extremely sensitive to anything that might inflame anti-clown sentiment.

The El Salvadorian sufferers of Caulrophobia had their worst fears reinforced recently when two criminals, dressed as clowns, brutally murdered a man on a public bus who refused to give them money. The real clowns of El Salvador, not wanting to see their image besmirched, have taken to the streets of San Salvador in numbers as high as 100 to remind the world that most clowns are not, in fact, evil. The Associated Press reports:

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — About 100 professional clowns who make money by performing on public buses marched through Salvadoran capital Thursday to protest the killing of a passenger by two imposter clowns.

On Monday, a man was shot five times in the face and stomach when he declined to give money to two assailants dressed as clowns who boarded a public bus. No one has been arrested.

The protesters — wearing oversized bow ties, tiny hats and big yellow pants — marched down San Salvador's main street in an effort to both entertain and educate passersby. Several held signs insisting that real clowns are not criminals.

"We are protesting so that people know we are not killers," said professional clown Ana Noelia Ramirez. "The people who did this are not clowns. They unfortunately used our costume and our makeup to commit a monstrous act."

Clown-union leader Carlos Vasquez says he plans to issue IDs to all real clowns and urge police to detain those who do not have them.