Did Muslims discover Cuba? Is Turkey going to get the chance to fund a mosque in Havana? Can the Castros warm to Islam as they open the doorway for other international relations?
Recently, as part of a special focus on Turkey, I published a chapter in volume 16 of Critical Muslim, a quarterly magazine of ideas and issues showcasing ground breaking thinking on Islam and what it means to be a Muslim in a rapidly changing, interconnected world.
The aim of my chapter is to explore a recent attempt by Turkey’s political leadership to build a mosque in Havana in light of Turkish Islam’s re-emergence on the global scene. Specifically, it is a reflection on this effort’s aims of re-territorializing and re-inscribing Turkish Muslim symbols, as imagined by what I call the nation’s ‘alter-Islamist’ political leaders, on the Cuban landscape as part of a wider endeavor to position Turkey’s “brand” of Islam as a bridge between “West” and “East” (essentially conceived) contra Saudi Arabia in a “cold-war for Sunni hegemony.” In a globalized world it is not possible to consider “Islam in Turkey” in any isolated manner or from a solely national, or even regional, point-of-view. Instead, it is necessary to cast the subject into a greater globalized context with attendant theoretical and methodological considerations. This chapter is an attempt to do so. Therefore, this inquiry will help researchers and the interested public better understand lived and political Islam in Turkey in a global context, involved in a feedback loop with various interlocutors including not only the usual suspects (e.g. the E.U., U.S., Saudi Arabia), but nations typically on the periphery of critical considerations of Islam in Turkey (e.g. Cuba and other Latin American and Caribbean countries).