ERDOGAN'S BIG LIE
December 1, 2014
By Geoffrey Clarfield -
"According to interpreters of sharia, any land that was once settled by
Muslims must be reclaimed and returned to Muslim sovereignty, soon and
by force. If Erdogan can persuade enough Muslims that they discovered
and settled America, then any kind of Islam-inspired violence or
terror carried out in North or South America is simply a form of
grass roots activism designed to reclaim lost territory for Islam".
Last month, the Turkish government hosted a group of Latin American
Muslim leaders at a summit in Istanbul. On the closing day of the
summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a televised speech,
where he told the assembled delegates that, "The introduction of
Islam into the American continent dates back to the 12th century."
According to Erdogan, "314 years before Columbus, in 1178, Muslim
sailors reached the American continent. Indeed, in Columbus' diaries
there is a reference to a mosque on a hill near the sea shore. We
can have a talk with my Cuban brother here.... A mosque would suit
well on that hill today, if they allow it."
Any serious historian of the Americas, including representatives of
North American indigenous groups, cannot endorse Erdogan's speech.
Commenting on similar ahistorical claims made by the Arab World Studies
Notebook -- a project that tries to inject like-minded fabrications
into the American school curriculum -- Peter de Gangi, the director
of Canada's Algonquin Nation Secretariat, dismissed these kinds of
Let us take a brief look at the document upon which Erdogan based
his speech. It was written by Youssef Mroueh in 1996. It starts off
innocuously with the title, "Precolumbian Muslims in the Americas."
However, on the next line, the immediate bias of the piece is
revealed, for the article was written for "the Preparatory Committee
for International Festivals to celebrate the millennium of the Muslims
arrival to the Americas (996-1996)."
Upon reading the article, there seems to be some evidence that Muslim
sailors may have sailed west from Spain and North Africa into what
they then called the "ocean of darkness and fog" and brought back
interesting things. We know from more reliable historical sources that
they visited the Canary Islands and they may even have reached the
Caribbean. This is within the range of anthropological possibility,
but then the claims of the article become totally unsupportable.
Here is just one example from Mroueh's article:
"Dr. Barry Fell (Harvard University) introduced in his book
'Saga-America' 1980 solid scientific evidence supporting the arrival,
centuries before Columbus, of Muslims from North and West Africa....
Engraved on rocks in the arid western U.S., he found texts, diagrams
and charts representing the last surviving fragments of what was once
a system of schools ... the language of instruction was North African
Arabic written with old Kufic Arabic scripts ... the descendants of the
Muslim visitors of North America are members of the present Iroquois,
Algonquin, Anasazi, Hohokam and Olmec native people."
Mroueh clearly has not studied New World archaeology. Had he done so,
he may have noticed that archaeologists believe that the Olmec ceased
to exist as a people by 400 B.C., so they could not have met these
Muslim explorers or intermarried with them. Indigenous peoples of
Central America, such as the Aztecs and the Maya, had to wait more
than a thousand years to confront the visiting, conquering Spaniards
who came in the wake of Christopher Columbus and never left.
If Erdogan's speech has no basis in fact or history, and Mroueh's
understanding of American archaeology makes new-age pseudo historians
look empirical by comparison, we must ask ourselves why he gave
it and to what end? Before doing so, we must also ask ourselves if
there is a precedent for this kind of pseudo history in the once,
largely secular Turkish educational system, within which Erdogan and
his colleagues were raised, before he became the latest advocate of
state-sponsored fundamentalist Islam.
When Turkey entered the First World War with the Germans against
the allied powers, it was a barely modernizing agricultural empire
ruled by a Sultan in Istanbul who, as Caliph of Islam, was also the
religious leader of the world's Sunni Muslims.
According to Islamic theology, the basis of the Ottoman Empire was
its sharia-based legal code, in which Muslims came first, while Jews
and Christians were treated as second-class citizens under the law.
Non-Turkish Muslim ethnic groups, such as the Kurds, were equal, but
only as Muslims, not as representatives of a distinct ethnic group
or nation. The many Turkish-speaking Shia Alevi, were not accepted as
"true Muslims" by the Ottoman bureaucracy.
When Turkey lost the war, the allies began to carve up Asia Minor. A
group of soldiers and ideologues under the charismatic leadership
of former Ottoman military officer Mustafa Kemal (who would later
be known as Ataturk) fought a war against the allies and eventually
reclaimed authority over Asia Minor. In the early 1920s, he and his
supporters established the Republic of Turkey.
Ataturk is often described by historians as an authoritarian, secular
modernizer who in essence became dictator of Turkey until his death
in 1939. Soon after taking power, he orchestrated the end of the
caliphate, the exile of the Sultan, changed the Turkish alphabet to
a Latin script, expunged the Persian and Arabic vocabulary from the
Turkish language, made the veil illegal, forced men to give up the
turban and wear hats, and encouraged the study of engineering and
science in the newly founded Turkish universities. One of the areas
of study, which was disproportionately important to the new regime,
Nazan Maksudyan is a historian of ideas based at Sabanci University
in Istanbul. She has carried out groundbreaking historical research
on the rise of anthropology in Turkey during the 1920s and '30s,
its pseudo-scientific basis and how it not only supported, but was
most probably directed by, the ruling political and bureaucratic
elite of the early Turkish republic. At one point, one of these
prominent anthropologists became an influential member of the national
>From 1925 until the late '30s, the Turkish Review of Anthropology
became the academic journal of the Turkish Institute of Anthropology.
In one of Maksudyan's articles in the contemporary academic journal
Cultural Dynamics, she analyses one of the first studies published
in the journal, called the "Comparative Analysis of the Turkish Race
and Other Races Living in Istanbul."
She begins by pointing out that many of the academics linked to the
institute and the journal came from the medical profession and that
the institute itself was linked to the Faculty of Medicine at the
University in Istanbul. She points out that in the '20s, Turkey did
not have any trained anthropologists. But later, a small number of
Turks were sent by the state to study anthropology in Europe. These
included women such as Seniha Tunakan, who in 1935 was sent to Germany
to study under scholars such as Dr. Eugen Fischer at the Kaiser
Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Genetics and Eugenics. In
1933, Adolph Hitler made sure that Fisher was appointed rector of
the University of Berlin.
We now know that during the '30s, German anthropology was dominated
by social Darwinism, a pseudo scientific theory that proclaimed that
the reason European nations dominated the world, was because of their
supposed (but unproven) biological superiority. At the same time,
German scientists and anthropologists believed that the Nordic races,
with the Germans at the top, were the dominant culture in the world.
The reason that eugenics was attached to anthropology was because of
the growing Nazi belief that other races were akin to biological germs
that needed to be cleansed from the body politic. These included Jews,
Gypsies and other inferior "Asiatics." Thus, German anthropology and
anthropologists were one of the major ideological building blocs of
We can only imagine what it must have been like for an aspiring medical
student and student of anthropology from the newly independent,
newly "secularized" Turkish republic coming to Germany during the
'30s and being accosted by these outlandish racial theories, that
suggested that the Turks might not be the racial equals of their
German academic hosts.
For centuries, Turkish Muslims had lived under a theological worldview,
which put Turkish-speaking Sunni Muslims at the top of creation. Adding
to this implied German insult of a visiting Turkish student would be
the fact that just a few years earlier, the Germans were the allies
and equals of the Turks and had encouraged them to turn the First
World War into a Jihad against England and France.
Clearly, the challenge of these visiting students was to create a
Turkish anthropology that would portray the Turks as a master race.
And that is exactly what the Turkish Institute of Anthropology did.
They created their own version of social Darwinism with the Turks on
top of the ladder of human creation.
Maksudyan's article shows that on a supposed survey of Turkish,
Greek, Armenian and Jewish residents of Istanbul, the researchers
sufficiently cooked the data to suggest that the Turks were the
superior race. Oddly, the researchers suggested that the Jews were
"mongrels," a mixed race, and they questioned whether the Greeks
of Istanbul were even related to the Greeks of what had become the
independent state of modern Greece.
Maksudyan clearly shows that neither the sample, the categories or the
correlations were clearly laid out. This foundational study had only
one goal in mind: To demonstrate that Turks were the dominant race
in Asia Minor, "the masters of the country," and that all minorities
should be subservient to them on the basis of this supposed biological
Not to be outdone by anthropologists, Turkish historians during the
early republic were at work rewriting history to suggest that the
Turks were at the origins of the rise of civilization in the ancient,
pre-Islamic Middle East. So both Turkish anthropology and Turkish
history during the rise of the republic were based on pseudo science
and a translated form of German-inspired racial theory, applied to
the Turkish situation.
Despite the rise of Turkish pseudo science and history, during the
20th century, a number of distinguished Turkey-based institutions
(such as Roberts College) provided a small minority of Turks with a
haven for rational thought, science and the study of Western and world
civilizations. With the growth of secondary and university education
in Turkey, there have emerged thinkers who have not been poisoned by
either the pseudo science of the past or the renewed Islamism of the
present Erdogan government.
So why does Erdogan now claim that Muslims discovered America? The
answer lies in his return to the Sunni theology supported by the former
Ottoman Sultans. According to interpreters of sharia, any land that
was once settled by Muslims must be reclaimed and returned to Muslim
sovereignty, soon and by force.
If Erdogan can persuade enough Muslims that they discovered and
settled America, then any kind of Islam-inspired violence or terror
carried out in North or South America is simply a form of grass roots
activism designed to reclaim lost territory for Islam. We have already
seen what this means here in Canada, as Islamic terror is no longer
a stranger to our country. Erdogan is simply its most absurd and most
highly placed advocate.
Perhaps the government of Canada needs to give Erdogan's speech a
bit more thought, as Turkey is still a member of NATO.