Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis rejected today the leftist Social Democrat Party’s (PSD) proposal to name Sevil Shhaideh for prime minister designate.

Sevil Shhaideh (52) is from Romania’s Tatar minority and is married with a Syrian businessman close to the Assad regime. A little-known figure, Shhaideh served as minister of regional development for six months in the last Social Democrat-led government. Shhaideh and her husband own three properties in Syria, according to her declaration of financial interests.

“I have carefully weighed the pro and con arguments and I have decided not to appoint Mrs Sevil Shhaideh,” Iohannis told reporters. “As a result, I am asking the PSD and (coalition partner) ALDE to make a new proposal.”

Together with its long-time ally ALDE, the PSD has an outright majority in parliament with 250 members in the 465-seat two-house assembly, allowing them to easily give their government a vote of confidence and pass legislation.

More than 80 % of Romanians are Orthodox Christians, while fewer than 1 % are Muslims. President Iohannis himself comes from the German minority and is is a member of the Evangelical Church, the German-speaking Lutheran church in Transylvania.[

The only previous example of a Muslim woman who served as head of state or government in Europe was Atifete Jahjaga, president of Kosovo from 2011 to 2016.