Turkey changes road name for new US embassy to ‘Malcolm X Street’
ANKARA: Turkey on Saturday renamed the road where the new US embassy is to be located after the American black Muslim civil rights campaigner Malcolm X, its latest use of a politically-loaded name for the street of a foreign mission.
The new embassy building, located in the Cukurambar district on the western outskirts of Ankara, is on what is currently named 1478 Street.
But a meeting of the Ankara city council unanimously decided to change the name to Malcolm X Street.
According to the construction contractors BL Harbert, the new complex is due to be finished in 2020.
The name change comes after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of rights for Muslims around the world, met the daughters of Malcolm X on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York last month.
The statement by the Ankara municipality noted that Erdogan had promised to the daughters that the name of Malcolm X would “live on” in the Turkish capital.
Turkey has on two occasions in recent months changed the name of embassy streets in Ankara to press home a political point.
In February, the street in Ankara where the current US embassy is located was renamed Olive Branch (Zeytin Dali in Turkish) Street after Turkey’s offensive against a Kurdish militia inside Syria that alarmed Washington.
And a similar step was taken when tensions with the United Arab Emirates flared after Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan retweeted a post on Twitter critical of the former Ottoman rulers of the region.
In response, Ankara renamed the street where the UAE embassy is located after the Ottoman governor of the time.
Malcolm X, who remains a hero for many blacks and Muslims in the United States, was assassinated in 1965 by gunmen with links to the the same radical black pride group that he joined in the 1950s.