Muslims or Columbus?

RECEP TAYYIP Erdogan is known for setting the discourse on international forums. Whether it is an altercation over Holocaust veracity or the right of the Palestinians, the Turkish leader had led from the front. 

President Erdogan surprised many — even the best-notch historians — when he confidently told a conference of Latin American leaders in Istanbul — that Muslims discovered the Americas more than three centuries before Christopher Columbus. He has thus kicked off a debate, at least, among the academicians and historians as to when and by who were the shores across the Atlantic discovered. To substantiate his claim, Erdogan — who is known for crossing swords over issues that are close to his heart — said that a diary entry by Columbus mentioned a mosque on a hill in Cuba. This is widely driven from the accounts of history, which says that Muslim sailors arrived in the newfound lands well before 1178 AD.

Erdogan’s revelation on history, geography and voyages will go a long way in re-projecting myths and realities in new light. Though it will be of little significance, to say tongue-in-cheek, how helpful that debate will be for US President Barack Obama as he struggles to redefine his country’s immigration policy, it will surely be of importance in striking new balances among ancient civilisations. With Columbus ending up in America in 1492 AD, rather than India to where he originally intended, Erdogan could commission a research project to find out as to when Bering Strait was crossed and by whom. In an era of digital strides, there is some hard work in store for archive-dwellers to unearth new discoveries.  Khaleej Times

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