Erdogan slams ‘ego complex’ of critics on Americas discovery claim

Erdogan says: ‘Just because I repeated a fact based on scientific research, I have been targeted by the Western media’

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan savaged critics of his remarks that Muslim explorers traveled to the Americas before Columbus as suffering from an “ego complex,” reaffirming his belief their purported feat was an historical fact.

“I have been the target of heavy criticism by the Western media,” Erdogan said during an address at a meeting of Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (COMCEC) in Istanbul.

“Just because I repeated a fact based on scientific research, I have been targeted by the Western media, and the foreigners inside us, who suffer from an ego complex,” he said, in an apparent jab at pro-Western Turks.

Erdogan, who has been in power for more than a decade, stirred controversy this month by declaring that the Americas were discovered by Muslims in the 12th century, nearly three centuries before Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic.

The firebrand president, whose claim was widely mocked in Turkish and international media, insisted the criticism was aimed at preventing Muslims from “questioning anything.”

“They have been very disturbed by the fact that we have reminded them of some historical facts, the history of civilization, science, politics and war,” he said.

“They don’t want us to question anything,” Erdogan said. “Believe me, they don’t like us.”

Erdogan cited as evidence for his claim that “Columbus mentioned the existence of a mosque on a hill on the Cuban coast” and offered to build a mosque at the site mentioned by the Genoese explorer.

Most history books say that Columbus set foot on the American continent in 1492 as he was seeking a new maritime route to India.

A tiny minority of Muslim scholars have recently suggested a prior Muslim presence in the Americas, although no pre-Columbian ruin of an Islamic structure has ever been found.

In a controversial article published in 1996, historian Youssef Mroueh refers to a diary entry from Columbus that mentions a mosque in Cuba. But the passage is widely understood to be a metaphorical reference to the shape of the landscape.