Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended on Tuesday his claim that Islamic explorers discovered the Americas three centuries before Columbus, and called on the "discovery" to be added to science education in schools.

At a ceremony in Ankara, Erdogan said: "A big responsibility falls on the shoulders of the national education ministry and YOK (higher education board) on this issue.

"If the history of science is written objectively, it will be seen that Islamic geography's contribution to science is much more than what's known."

Erdogan reiterated his earlier claims and said, "very respected scientists in Turkey and in the world," supported his claims.

"Some youth of our country have begun objecting to this without doing any research or paying attention to discussions. Not only youths but also some very senior figures have begun disputing it. Why? Because they still do not believe a Muslim can achieve this... They did not believe in the leaders who closed the Dark Ages and opened up the New Age. This is a lack of self-confidence," said Erdogan.

Erdogan's comments attracted mixed reviews with Mehmet Yilmaz of the Hurriyet daily saying, "Now it should be the turn to correct other assumptions misunderstood by the world," hinting that Erdogan's next claim will be that Muslims instead of Newton discovered gravity.

Pro-government media, however, has hailed Erdogan's statement saying global media has depended far too long on Western interpretation of history.

"If President Erdogan had not made the comments on the Americas' discovery, a big majority would have been unaware of the continent's discovery by the Muslims because Western sources wrote that it was Columbus who first set foot on America. We had copied the translated (Western) information into our books," said Mehmet Seker in the Yeni Safak daily.

Citing Christopher Columbus, Erdogan stirred controversy on Saturday when he said Muslims first discovered Americas in the 12th century as, "Columbus mentioned the existence of a mosque on a hill on the Cuban coast."