Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan says America was discovered by Muslims not Christopher Columbus.
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.
Columbus is widely believed to have discovered the Americas in 1492, while trying to find a new route to India.
But in a disputed article published in 1996, historian Youssef Mroueh said Columbus’ entry was proof that Muslims had reached the Americas first and that “the religion of Islam was widespread”.
Mr Erdogan said he thought “a mosque would go perfectly on the hill today” and that he would like to discuss building this with Cuba.
The first people to reach the Americas came from Asia. They are believed to have crossed the Bering Strait about 15,000 years ago.
For centuries it was believed that Christopher Columbus was the first man from the Old continent to cross the Atlantic to the New World, but new evidence from a research team from the University of Rhode Island suggests Muslim seafarers might just be the first people to have settled on the shores of America, a possibility that could rewrite history as we know it.
The discovery completely took the researchers by surprise admits professor Evan Yuriesco, in charge of the research team.
“We were expecting to find traces of prehistoric Native American settlements, as we have in the area for the past decades. We were not prepared to find 9th century clay pots containing ancient manuscripts written in the Arabic language” he explains.
The team of researchers fell upon what could be the mass tomb of 9th century seafarers.