City authorities in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, have officially renamed the street where the new U.S. embassy is being built to Malcolm X Avenue after the famed Black muslim civil rights leader, CNN reported this week.
According to state-run media agency Anadolu, Saturday, Turkish leaders announced that the city assembly had accepted the name change unanimously.
The move comes at a time when relations between Turkey and the United States have been tense because of the Trump administration’s decision to supply Kurdish group that support the Syrian opposition with weapons.
According to CNN, “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized US support of Kurdish groups, claiming they are connected to separatists such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party that are attempting to overthrow the Turkish government.”
This change coincides with other politically charged name changes to streets in Ankara. The new signs are likely meant to be seen as an olive branch to American diplomats, but is both a symbolic and controversial move. Malcolm X is still seen as a polarizing figure in U.S. history; with many applauding the Black Muslim civil rights leader as an activist while others continue to regard him as divisive and responsible for inciting racial tension, violence and anti-American rhetoric.
With the political tribalism that has taken over America since Donald Trump began his campaign to make it “great again,” many have wondered why Turkey chose Malcolm X of all people to appease a notoriously anti-Black administration.
Turkey has renamed the street on which the new US embassy is located to 'Malcolm X Avenue'. pic.twitter.com/DmZJfGsx8H
— IlmFeed (@IlmFeed) October 15, 2018
“The street was given the name of U.S. 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 published over the weekend.
Erdogan met Malcolm X’s daughters during a visit to New York last month and his spokesman Ibrahim Kalin shared the story about the name change on his Twitter account on Sunday.
ABD Büyükelçiliğinin bulunduğu caddenin ismi “Malcolm X” oldu https://t.co/xCZKwnARHx
— Ibrahim Kalin (@ikalin1) October 14, 2018
The US State Department reports that construction of the new American Embassy, which will sit three miles from the current embassy, is expected to be completed by June 2020.