City authorities in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, have renamed the street where the new US embassy is being built “Malcolm X Avenue”, after the civil rights leader, state media reported.
The move coincides with a period of fraught relations between Turkey and the US and comes after other politically charged name changes to streets in Ankara.
In February, the city renamed the street outside the current US embassy “Olive Branch”, which is what Turkey called one of its military campaigns in Syria. Ankara is at odds with Washington over its backing of forces led by the Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey views as a terrorist group.
Malcolm X remains a divisive figure in US history and Ankara’s move will likely be received negatively by critics who say he stirred racist and anti-American sentiment.
“The street was given the name of US Muslim politician and human rights defender Malcolm X, about whom President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, ‘We will make his name live on in Ankara,’” Ankara’s municipality said in a statement published by Anadolu news agency on Saturday.
Last month, Erdoğan met Malcolm X’s daughters during a visit to New York. Erdoğan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin shared the story about the name change on his Twitter account on Sunday.
A major row between Washington and Ankara appeared to have ended on Friday when American pastor Andrew Brunson was released on after two years in Turkish custody, a move which Donald Trump said was a “tremendous step” toward improved relations.
Construction of the new US embassy in Ankara is scheduled for completion in 2020.