Romania ready to appoint Europe's first Muslim prime minister

(Photo: Romanian Orthodox Church / WCC)World Council of Churches meeting at the Caraiman Monastery in the southern Carpathian Mountains of Romania from June 18-23, at the invitation of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the dominant confession in the eastern European country.

Romania is set to appoint Europe's first Muslim prime minister who will also be the nation's first woman in the leadership position following the nomination of a member of the country's little-known Tartar minority.

Sevil Shhaideh, a 52-year-old member of the Tatar Muslim minority and a low-key former public administration minister, was proposed by her political mentor Liviu Dragnea, leader of the left-leaning Social Democratic Party (PSD).

The PSD led by Dragnea took 45 per cent of the vote on election day Dec. 11, double any other party's share.

After consultations Dec. 21, the party is to assemble a new government in coalition with a smaller liberal partner.

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But although Dragnea, is the party and would normally be appointed to become Prime Minister, he was found guilty of electoral fraud and given a two years' suspended sentence in April.

He is not banned from politics and he remains hugely popular among his party's base.

Incumbent President Klaus Iohannis was elected on an anti-corruption platform and has barred any candidate with a criminal record from becoming prime minister.

"It's a surprising choice," said Sergiu Miscoiu, a professor of political science at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, The New York Times reported. "People were expecting somebody controlled by Dragnea, but from the party's upper levels, not a relative newcomer."

Of Romania's 21.5 million people only one percent are Muslims with some 82 percent Eastern Orthodox Christians.

Shhaideh, is a former regional development minister and is married to a Syrian Alawite with property in the country. She was born in 1964.

She graduated in 1987 from the Economic Planning and Cybernetics Faculty of the Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, later attending several foreign training courses including in the United States, before specializing in information systems management.

She had her first political appointment in May 2012, when she was named Secretary of State with the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration before becoming the office's Minister in 2015, a position she held until November.

Romania's parliament and President Iohannis still have to approve her appointment.

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