According to Turkey's Islamist president Recap Erdogan
Muslims discovered the
Americas more than three centuries before Christopher Columbus, Turkish
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.
He made the claim during a conference of Latin American
Muslim leaders in Istanbul, pointing to a diary entry in which Columbus
mentioned a mosque on a hill in Cuba.
Mr Erdogan also said "Muslim sailors arrived in America in 1178".
He said he was willing to build a mosque at the site Columbus identified.
The Turkish president - whose AK Party is rooted in political
Islam - gave no further evidence to back up his theory, instead
stating: "Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th
There's actually quite a long list of supposed examples of pre-Columbian contact between the Old and New World, the Vikings are the only ones who've been confirmed but the Welsh, Irish, Basques, Romans, English, Egyptians, Africans, Chinese, Polynesians and Japanese have all had claims. Some of them are vaguely plausible- though probably still wrong- but most are not.
The Muslim discovery of America is not one of the more convincing theories but like a lot of psuedo-history appeals to the pride of a culture whose actual accomplishments have been rather modest since the Mongols sacked Baghdad. The former Chinese President Hu Jintao did something similar when he informed the Australian parliament that the Chinese discovered Australia back in 1421- a claim based on the ridiculous book by Gavin Menzies. Again it appealed to the pride of a culture that while once great, has lagged the West for centuries.
My favourite example of Islamists hijacking Western accomplishments is the widely believed story in the Middle East about Neil Armstrong hearing the Islamic call to prayer when he first set foot on the moon. In comparison reaching the Americas is lacking ambition.