Sweden Quran burner says he is leaving for Norway


An Iraqi man who carried out several Quran burnings in Sweden told a newspaper on Wednesday that he would seek asylum in neighboring Norway in the wake of a deportation order by authorities in Stockholm.

Salwan Momika, 37, has staged several burnings and desecrations of the sacred book of Islam in Sweden over the past few years.

"I am on my way to Norway," Momika said in an interview published Wednesday by Swedish tabloid Expressen. "Sweden only accepts terrorists who are granted asylum and given protection, while philosophers and thinkers are expelled."

Videos of Momika's provocative Quran burnings got worldwide publicity and raised anger and criticism in several Muslim nations, leading to riots and unrest in many places. He is currently being investigated by Swedish authorities for incitement against ethnic groups in Sweden.

According to Expressen, Momika is one of the reasons why Sweden's NATO membership, which was finalized earlier this month, got delayed by months. Among other countries, his actions got wide publicity in NATO member Turkey, which vetoed Stockholm's bid to join the military alliance for a lengthy period.

Sweden's migration authorities revoked Momika's residence permit in October, saying he had provided incorrect information on his application and he would be deported to Iraq. But his deportation has been on hold for security reasons, because according to Momika, his life could be in danger if he were returned to his native country.

Swedish media reported that Momika was granted a residence permit in 2021. In connection with last year's deportation decision, Momika was granted a new temporary residence permit that expires on April 16, according to Expressen.

"I am moving to a country that welcomes me and respects me. Sweden doesn't respect me," Momika told the newspaper, adding that he had already entered Norway and was on his way to the capital, Oslo.

There was no immediate comment available from Norwegian authorities.