No, Ilhan Omar’s Children Weren’t Arrested for Starting Church Fire

A routine review of content labeled satire.

  • Published 1 November 2019

Claim

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar's teenage children were arrested on suspicion of starting a church fire.

Rating

Labeled Satire
Labeled Satire
About this rating

Origin

On July 30, 2019, the website BustATroll published an article positing that U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s children were arrested on suspicion of setting fire to a church:

Ilhan Omar’s Children Arrested For Starting Church Fire

The fire broke out at St. Christopher’s Church of Allod in the early morning hours of Saturday. Within minutes it became a 5 alarm blaze to which fire trucks from 3 stations responded. But it was too late. The historic Maine church was utterly destroyed, nothing more than a pile of smoldering ashes by the time fire crews left.

Arson was immediately suspected and a police investigation launched. Surveillance video from a home 5 miles away showed two young women laughing and running, completely carefree. Authorities honed in on them immediately as suspects for no discernible reason and they were soon in custody.

This item was not a factual recounting of real-life events. The article originated with a website that describes its output as being humorous or satirical in nature, as follows:

Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined. Any similarities between this site’s pure fantasy and actual people, places, and events are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and satirical.

The fictional story went viral again in fall 2019 after it was republished verbatim, without a satire disclaimer, on the junk news website USANetwork.info.

For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.