Erdogan: Muslims discovered Americas first

A depiction of Columbus claiming possession of the New World. (Wikipedia)

Muslim sailors and not an expedition led by Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas, claimed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan while speaking in an Istanbul summit of Muslim Leaders from Latin America on Saturday, Agence France-Presse reported.

“Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th century. Muslims discovered America in 1178, not Christopher Columbus,” the Turkish president said in a televised speech.

According to the conservative president, Muslims found the New World almost three centuries before Columbus did.

“Muslim sailors arrived in America from 1178. Columbus mentioned the existence of a mosque on a hill on the Cuban coast," Erdogan said.

While it is widely agreed that Columbus was the first to set foot on the American continent in 1492 while seeking a new route to India, a minority of Muslim scholars suggest that Muslims may have arrived before the Spanish explorer.

In one contentious article published in 1996, historian Youssef Mroueh cites a diary entry by Columbus that described what seems to be a mosque in Cuba.

However, some understand the passage to be a metaphorical reference to the shape of the landscape.

Erdogan said that Ankara was even prepared to build a mosque at the site mentioned by the Genoese explorer.

“I would like to talk about it to my Cuban brothers. A mosque would go perfectly on the hill today,” the Turkish leader said.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43