Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Muslims discovered the Americas in the 12th century, nearly three centuries before Christopher Columbus set foot there, Agence France Presse reported.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the closing session of the First Summit of Latin American Muslim Religious Leaders in Istanbul, Turkey on November 15, 2014. (Image source: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
"Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th century," the conservative president said Saturday during an Istanbul summit of Latin American Muslim leaders. "Muslims discovered America in 1178, not Christopher Columbus."
Erdogan added that "Columbus mentioned the existence of a mosque on a hill on the Cuban coast."
More from AFP:
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.
"I would like to talk about it to my Cuban brothers," the Turkish leader said, according to AFP. "A mosque would go perfectly on the hill today."
The accepted historical account is that Columbus landed on the American continent in 1492.
(H/T: Drudge Report)