NEUFAHRN FREISING : With his neatly trimmed beard, sharp suit and broad smile, Ozan Iyibas looks like typical politician out to win votes ahead of a municipal election in Southern Germany's  Bavaria region.

But he has unleashed a mini earthquake with his candidacy - as the first Muslim standing for the Christian Social Union [CSU] in a predominantly Catholic region.

''I don't see any contradiction in this choice,'' says the 37-year-old, sitting back in an armchair and clutching a mug of tea in the town of Naufahrn.

''It's a question of values. The values of my religion are very close to the Christians.''

While Iyibas won the local CSU's nomination unanimously such support is not always given in the region where party chief Markus Soeder in 2018 ordered crosses to be displayed at the entrance of public buildings, as a way of honoring the region's ''cultural heritage''.

In another Bavarian village, Wallerstein, resistance from the local CSU members was so great against a Muslim candidate that the hopeful was forced to pull out of the race.

The CSU, sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union [CDU], has been the dominating force in Bavaria since the end of World War II.

Iyibas, who is of Turkish origin and an adherent of Alevism, a secular branch of Islam, said he has been brought up to feel at ease in a predominantly Catholic environment from a young age.

''When I was little, my mother took me to a church and I asked her why. She replied that if I were going to live here, we need to understand and share the values of this country. That's what I have done.''

Stefan Wurster, a professor of political studies at the Bavarian School of Public Policy has noted that  ''many Germans from migrant background believe in conservative values that correspond with those of the CSU.'' [AFP]


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