Turkey, Saudi await response to demand for mosque in Cuba, President Erdoğan says
Turkey has applied to Cuban officials to build a mosque in the Caribbean country, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.
“We have applied [to the Cuban officials] to build a mosque similar to the one in Ortaköy; we are waiting,” Erdoğan said Feb. 9, while responding to journalists on board while en route to his South American tour.
Saudi Arabian officials have also placed a similar application, Erdoğan said. “We will build it if we get the permission. There are around 4,000 Muslims in Cuba,” he said.
Erdoğan is scheduled to visit Cuba on Feb. 10 and 11 after his visit to Colombia ends.
The visit comes after Erdoğan’s remarks in November last year that Muslims were the first to discover the Americas and a mosque once sat on a hill on the Cuban coast.
During his speech to the 1st Latin American Muslim Leaders Summit in Istanbul, Erdoğan said Muslim sailors arrived in America in 1178, more than 300 years before Christopher Columbus.
“I will talk to my brothers in Cuba and a mosque would suit the top of that hill today as well,” Erdoğan had said then.
However, presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın said there is no plan to lay the groundwork to build a mosque there at a press conference on Jan. 28.
Prominent Turkish historian İlber Ortaylı has said the Turkish president’s comments on Muslims discovering the American continent before Christopher Columbus were “half-fantasy.”
“The sources for the theory that Muslims discovered America lack scientific precision,” Ortaylı said on private broadcaster CNN Türk on Nov. 20, adding that some historians from China and Denmark have also laid claim to explorers from those countries discovering the Americas before Columbus.
U.S. historian Gary Knight also told Hürriyet that Columbus did indeed mention a mosque in his diaries written about the Americas’ discovery, but it was a “little peak like a pretty little mosque,” on a mountain that Columbus described.