European Union is about to get its first Muslim prime minister

Muslims make up roughly 0.3% of the Romanian population, but one of them might soon become the country’s first female prime minister.

Romania’s largest political party, which holds the majority of the parliamentary seats, nominated Sevil Shhaideh for prime minister. If the president and parliament approve the nomination, Shhaideh will make history as Romania’s first female PM and the European Union’s first Muslim head of government.

Shhaideh, 52, is part of Romania’s Tatar Muslim minority, which belongs to the Turkic ethnic groups that live in Asia and Europe. She is married to a Syrian-born former agriculture ministry consultant.

Liviu Dragnea, chairman of Romania’s Social Democratic party, which won the Romanian parliamentary elections on Dec. 11, nominated Shhaideh as the new head of the Romanian government.

Allied with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, the left-leaning Social Democratic Party holds the majority of parliament seats.

Shhaideh’s nomination came as a surprise to many, seeing that she isn’t widely known in the country.


Normally, the president designates the leader of the largest political party as first minister. But the party’s leader carries an electoral fraud conviction and a two-year suspension from major governmental positions, so the Social Democrats’ leader Liviu Dragnea resorted to Shhaideh.

Shhaideh is a former IT systems manager and currently works as an official in the regional development ministry. She served as the minister for regional development for six months in 2015.

Shhaideh’s nomination comes as a breath of fresh air in an EU beleaguered by heightened Islamophobia.

Earlier this year, Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico, the EU’s next president, said Islam has “no place in Slovakia”. Fico declared that he would “never make a voluntary decision that would lead to the formation of a unified Muslim community in Slovakia”.

Similarly, the prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbanhas, has warned against the creation of “parallel societies” of Muslims in Europe.


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