Turkish President Recep Erdoğan never shies away from an opportunity to offer an outlandish quote. Recently he claimed that Muslim pilgrims, rather than Christopher Columbus, discovered America, and suggested a mosque should be built in Cuba to honour the fact.
Addressing a gathering of Latin American Muslims in Istanbul November 15, Erdoğan said:
It is alleged that the American continent was discovered by Columbus in 1492.In fact, Muslim sailors reached the American continent 314 years before Columbus, in 1178…in his memoirs, Christopher Columbus mentions the existence of a mosque atop a hill on the coast of Cuba. A mosque would look perfect on that hill today.
A columnist, Oray Eğin, showed where Erdogan might have got his wires crossed on Twitter:
Apparently illiterate Erdogan thinks that Columbus saw a mosque in Cuba. Here's what actually happened. pic.twitter.com/E9NLkALJaq
— Oray Egin (@OrayinEnglish) November 15, 2014
Of course it may be Erdoğan's conservative columnists and advisors that are behind this revelation rather than Erdoğan himself. Abdurrahman Dilipak is one such character. In 1984 he penned a book entitled Coğrafi Keşiflerin İçyüzü, The Reality of Geographical Discoveries, which was popular in some Muslim literary circles for a time.
Dilipak tweeted his support for Erdoğan's finding on November 17:
Colomb ABD ye gitmeden önce İstanbulda kızıldeirli gelin vardı ya hu!
— Abdurrahman Dilipak (@aDilipak) November 17, 2014
Before Colombus arrived USA [sic], there was an Indian bride in Istanbul!
But Turkish netizens were quick to make fun of Erdoğan's statement.
Another meme generator,İnciCaps, imagined the reaction in Havana:
A Google Search on the topic yields a number of other unflattering takedowns of the president's theory.
Finally netizens decided to take the president's historical expropriations to a whole new cosmic level:
Here, Neil Armstrong writes the following in his autobiography:
When we landed on the moon, we saw the ruins of a magnificent building. Buzz Aldrin and I were amazed as we approached the ruins. This was a small, elaborately-built Ottoman mosque. When we came back to earth, NASA and the American government ordered us not to talk about it… Neil Armstrong – Autobiography, 1997.