Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Cuba each year and know the tropical charms of the Caribbean island nation. However, Recep Tayyip Erdogan the President of Turkey says he believes the island nation is missing something important – a mosque.
Erdogan visited Cuba as part of a tour of Latin America, telling news agencies he discussed with Raul Castro the President of Cuba the idea of building a mosque.
The Turkish President said he gave Castro and other Cuban government officials information related to and including blueprints of the Ortakoy mosque.
Erdogan said he did not receive a negative response from Cuba, but the country has rejected ideas that have been similar.
The Ortakoy mosque is in Istanbul on the shore of Bosphorus and the government of Turkey sees it as way to reach out to Caribbean Muslims.
Statistics found at the Pew Research Center from back in 2011 show there were close to 10,000 Muslims leaving in Cuba.
Erdogan said that Cuba already had received an offer that was similar from Saudi Arabia. However, he said Turkey would be willing to construct its own mosque just outside of Havana, in additional to the structure build by Saudi Arabia, if necessary.
While with reporters who covered his entire visit to Cuba, Erdogan said that Turkey’s architecture was different from that of Saudi Arabia. Erdogan said Turkey wants to build it themselves with no partner.
The President of Turkey made headlines this year for speaking to a delegation of journalists from Latin America that Muslims discovered the Americas prior to Christopher Columbus.
Erdogan says personal writings of Columbus revealed that there was a reference of a mosque sitting atop the hill.
Some historians criticized his assessment by saying that the Turkish president had misinterpreted Columbus’ passage suggesting instead it referred to just a mountain top that had resembled a minaret.
There already is one other monument in Havana that is Turkish. The bust of Mustafa Kemal Atarturk the founder of modern day Turkey and a staunch defender of secularism is on the island nation.