ISTANBUL – Muslims discovered the Americas in the 12th century, more than three centuries before Christopher Columbus, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.
« Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th century. Muslims discovered America in 1178, not Christopher Columbus, » Erdogan said in a televised speech during an Istanbul summit of Muslim leaders from Latin America.
The Turkish president was speaking during a conference of Latin American Muslim leaders in Istanbul, pointing to a diary entry in which Columbus mentioned a mosque on a hill in Cuba.
Muslims Crossed The Atlantic Before Columbus
« The religion of Islam was widespread before Columbus, » the longtime Turkish leader was cited by Hurriyet Daily News.
« Muslim sailors had arrived in the shores of America in 1178. In his diaries, Christopher Columbus referred to the presence of a mosque on top of a mountain in Cuba. »
Erdogan said that Ankara was even prepared to build a mosque at the site mentioned by the Genoese explorer.
“Now I will speak to my Cuban brother [the country’s delegate at the forum]. A mosque will suit well on top of that mountain today, too. Their permission is enough,” said Erdogan.
The newly-elected Turkish president has contrasted the impact of Islam and Christianity on newly-converted territories.
« Converting people by force, by the sword, has never been a part of Islam. Our religion has never been a tool of exploitation, » said 60-year-old Erdogan, who was prime minister from 2003, until moving into his new post in August.
In contrast, Erdogan said that European Christians “colonialized America for its gold and Africa for its diamonds, now do it in the Middle East for its oil with the same dirty plot. »
The idea raised by Erdogan was first suggested by historian Youssef Mroueh in his article in 1996.
In this article, he refers to a diary entry from Columbus that mentions a mosque in Cuba. His idea was contested by analysts who said the passage is widely understood to be a metaphorical reference to the shape of the landscape.
Evidence exists from the Arabs, West Africans, and Ottomans of Muslim voyages to the Americas well before Columbus and Christian Europe.
For whatever reason, the textbooks continue to extol the voyage of Columbus and the courage of his crew, the “first” to make it across the Atlantic.