Erdoğan’s mosque plan opposed by friends of Cuba
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks at the closing ceremony of the first Latin American Muslim leaders summit in Istanbul on Nov 15. AA PhotoAn international friendship association in Turkey has responded bitterly to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call to build a mosque in Cuba, which he claimed to have been discovered by Muslim sailors long before Christopher Columbus.
“The Cuban state guarantees the fulfillment of the needs of the Muslim community in Cuba in the scope of holistic planning. This process cannot be affected by a decision or a wish of a representative of any foreign country,” the Jose Marti Cuba Friendship Association in Turkey said in a statement on Nov. 16.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the first Latin American Muslim leaders summit in Istanbul on Nov. 15, Erdoğan had claimed that “Muslim sailors had arrived at 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.”
The Turkish president also vowed to “rebuild” the mosque if Cuban authorities grant Turkey permission.
However, in its statement, the Jose Marti Cuba Friendship Association referred to articles of the Constitution of Cuba that stress the Caribbean state’s secular nature. “Considering the democratic decision-making processes in Cuba, we don’t think that a decision to build a mega mosque on Cuban hills will be made,” the statement said.
The final sentence of the statement appeared to level more direct criticism to Turkey’s mega construction projects that have angered environmentalists in recent years: “From the first steps of their scientific education, Cubans internalize the fact that humans are a part of nature, while learning not to take pleasure from ugliness in the form of a tour de force that violates nature.”