The Turkish president has asked Cuba if he can build a mosque on the Caribbean island.
Tayyip Erdogan believes that the Americas were discovered by Muslims and he wants to build a mosque similar to one in Turkey that lies on the European shore of the Bosphorus.
At a conference in Istanbul last November, he told a gathering of Muslim leaders from Latin America that Muslims had reached the Americas in the 12th Century – before the European explorer Christopher Columbus did so in 1492.
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Mr Erdogan made his latest request after talks with Cuban President Raul Castro in Havana.
“I presented all the information, project work and visuals regarding the Ortakoy mosque,” he said.
‘We will do this ourselves. We don’t want a partner. If you find it appropriate we want to do this,” Mr Erdogan was quoted as saying on his official website.
He told journalists that the Cuban government had agreed a similar proposal with Saudi Arabia some time ago and, in light of that, his planned mosque could be built elsewhere in Cuba.
It is not known how Cuba responded to the request.
Cuba has a population of 11 million people, most of whom are Roman Catholic – there are only a few thousand Muslims.
Mr Erdogan’s belief is based on a reference in Columbus’ diary of his voyages to a “mosque-like formation” at the top of a mountain but most scholars say the reference was to a natural mountain feature rather than an actual mosque.