Somali Migrant Torched Churches as Revenge for a Qur’an Being Burned

cross fire church
thanasus / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A Somali migrant has admitted to setting two Norwegian churches on fire earlier this year, claiming that he committed the arson attacks as revenge for a burning of a copy of the Qur’an late last year.

The man, in his twenties, pled guilty to the two fires in Dombås and at Sel, with the first fire spreading to the spire of the church and doing serious damage.

The man said the acts were revenge for the burning of a Qur’an in the city of Kristiansand by the group Stop Islamisation of Norway (SIAN) which ended in violence after counter-protestors jumped barricades and fought with members of the group.

According to a report from broadcaster NRK, the Somali migrant was identified based on DNA evidence that was gathered at the scenes of both arson attacks.

“The remains of a trouser were found at the church, with the defendant’s DNA on it. The same thing happened at Sel Church. A bottle with the defendant’s fingerprints was also found there,” prosecutor Lars Rune Ringvik said.

The migrant, who came to Sweden at the height of the migrant crisis in 2015, confessed his guilt to investigators during his first interrogation, saying he smashed a window to the church and threw inflammable liquid inside followed by lit matches.

“Afterwards I considered going to the police station to report. But then I thought my life would be finished,” the Somali said.

He claimed to have seent he Qur’an burning on television.

“I started checking, and found that the person who had set fire to the Koran had not been punished. Then I got angry. I’m a Muslim. I don’t like someone trampling on my religion because I respect the religion of others,” he said — despite the fact he attempted to burn down two churches.

The church at Dombås is said to have suffered 20 million Norwegian Krone (£1.7 million/$2.2 million) in damages as a result of the fire.

The migrant’s admission of guilt comes just weeks after another migrant, a Rwandan man, set fire to Nantes Cathedral in France.

The 39-year-old had been a volunteer at the cathedral before deciding to set it on fire. Cathedral staff initially defended him, saying they could not believe he would have had anything to do with the attack, but he eventually confessed his responsibility to law enforcement.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.