Turkish FM says Erdoğan, Obama to open mosque in US
This file photo shows Obama (R) and Erdoğan leave after the family picture of the G-20 Summit of Heads of State and Government in Mexico.AFP photoAfter Turkish Foreign Minister announced that President Barack Obama "accepted in principle" to join President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a trip to Maryland to open a mosque, a White House spokesperson has said there were "no presidential visits or travel to announce" at the moment.
On April 19, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who was on a three-day visit to Washington, visited the Turkish-American Culture and Civilization Center in Maryland that also has a medium-sized mosque, and lunched with representatives from the American Muslim community.
“During a phone call, President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan asked President [Barack] Obama to accompany him in opening the center together and President Obama accepted his offer in principle,’” Çavuşoğlu told the representatives, according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency. If Obama’s schedule allows at the time of the opening, he will accompany Erdoğan, he added.
"We don’t have any conversations to read out for you. And no travel or Presidential engagements to announce," Mark Stroh, a White House National Security Council spokesman, told daily Hürriyet on April 20.
The complex has been built on a large area and consists of a coffee house, gift shops, cultural center, amphitheater and exhibition hall, computer lab, library, Turkish bath/hamam and guest house.
Çavuşoğlu said the center has been constructed as a place where all Muslims in the U.S. could come together and worship freely.
He said Muslims have faced increased challenges across the world, particularly due to rising Islamophobia.
“Our duty is to tell the true Islam which is a religion of peace. Islam does not tolerate terrorism. But unfortunately the al-Qaeda and Daesh terror groups have tarnished the image of Islam,” he said.
Daesh, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), is neither Islamic nor a state, he added.
Recalling that Turkey has contributed to the construction of the center in Maryland, the top diplomat said Turkey has contributed to development and infrastructure projects in Muslim countries, citing Somalia, Djibouti and Myanmar.