Istanbul (AFP) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that the Americas were discovered by Muslims in the 12th century, nearly three centuries before Christopher Columbus set foot there.
Erdogan said that Ankara was even prepared to build a mosque at the site mentioned by the Genoese explorer.
History books say that Columbus set foot on the American continent in 1492 as he was seeking a new maritime route to India.
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.