How do you get from Christopher Columbus to Butterball by way of Constantinople? Just ask Ataturk.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently made the news when he claimed that Muslim seafarers “discovered America” and that when Christopher Columbus arrived in Cuba in 1492 he found a mosque, built there by the natives, who were also Muslim. It may sound ridiculous (OK, it is ridiculous), but it says a lot about Turkey’s president and the Islamic chauvinism that makes Erdogan’s “new Turkey” so different from the secular ideals of the country’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Ataturk had a similarly inventive view of history. As explained by the Turkish Historical Society he founded, Native Americans were Turks, not Muslims. And also, it was the Turkish admiral Piri Reis who drew the oldest map of America. Instead of embracing a religiously centered bad history, the founder of the modern Turkish state saw the world through the triumphs of ethnic Turks.
Read more at Foreign Policy: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/11/26/a_surprising_history_of_turkey_in_america