Turkey names new US embassy street 'Malcolm X Avenue'

New moniker comes at a turbulent time for US-Turkey relations 

Zamira Rahim
Sunday 14 October 2018 22:17
Erdogan defends Turkey's economy, accuses the US of jeopardising bilateral ties

Officials in Turkey have re-named the street in Ankara where a new US embassy is being built “Malcolm X Avenue”, after the US civil rights leader.

It is the latest in a series of politically charged street names in the country’s capital.

Malcolm X’s legacy has fierce supporters and critics in the US, where his views are often interpreted as radical.

Some critics maintain that the activist’s work, some of which was focused on black nationalism, was anti-US in nature.

“The street was given the name of US Muslim politician and human rights defender Malcolm X, about whom President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, ‘We will make his name live on in Ankara’,” Ankara’s municipality said in a statement released on Saturday.

Last month Mr Erdogan met Malcolm X’s daughters during a visit to New York.

It is not the first time Ankara’s street names have been altered for the sake of political symbolism.

In February the city renamed the street outside the current US embassy “Olive Branch”, the name of one of Turkey’s military campaigns in Syria, where it is at odds with Washington over US support for forces led by the Kurdish YPG militia.

Last December the mayor of Ankara ordered the street of the UAE mission to be renamed after the Ottoman former governor of Medina, after a row between the nations about the state of the holy city under Ottoman rule.

Reports of the latest name change were published in Turkish state media and come during a turbulent time in relations between Turkey and the US.

A major rift between the two nations appeared to have cooled on Friday after Turkey released US pastor Andrew Brunson, who had been detained for two years in the country, after repeated sanctions and complaints from Washington.

Mr Brunson was arrested for alleged links to political groups including a banned movement related to exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen.

US president Donald Trump hailed the pastor’s release as a “tremendous step” towards improving relations between the two countries.

He also denied any link between the release and the disappearance of US based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Turkish officials believe that Mr Khashoggi was killed by a team of people inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, though Saudi Arabia denies this.

Mr Trump has warned of “severe consequences” for the kingdom if Turkey’s account is found to be accurate.

Additional reporting by agencies

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