Munich is colorful, also when it comes to religion or worldview. In order to maintain and promote peaceful and enriching coexistence, the city has to have its own interreligious commissioner. The former city councilor Marian Offman will fill this new position, he officially appeared in his office for the first time on Thursday evening at the peace prayer on Jakobsplatz. “The coexistence of religions at all levels is a contribution to the inner peace of a city,” he said in an interview a few hours earlier.
The 73-year-old Offman is best connected in urban society. He was a member of the city council for 18 years, first for the CSU, later he switched to the SPD. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Munich and Upper Bavaria and has earned a reputation for himself through the state capital as a fighter against anti-Semitism and discrimination against minorities. He has also been in contact with Muslims in Munich for a long time. He wants to renew and deepen this and quickly establish contact with other religions and ideology groups. Just his appointment by the social committee is a political and social sign, says Offman. “That it is a Jew, that alone is an announcement. A very good announcement.” Especially in the former “capital of the movement” of the National Socialists, the starting point of the Reichspogromnacht.
Offman is looking forward to his new role, even if it is no secret that he originally wanted to fill a different position: the office of anti-Semitism commissioner. But the Greens and the Department for Democracy had different ideas. “We want to develop an action plan first, the position of the anti-Semitism commissioner should then be part of it,” said Dominik Krause, the parliamentary group’s deputy chairman, a year ago.
However, the SPD did not want to lose the competence of its former city council, which narrowly missed the move in March 2020. The result is the new function of interreligious commissioner. He was able to make friends with him straight away, says Offman. “That goes beyond the office of the anti-Semitism commissioner.” Anyone who knows him knows that he will continue to be in the front row of protests against Nazis. He has spoken with the Greens, and in the event of anti-Semitic attacks he will consult with the Department for Democracy.
A discussion with his former party, the CSU, is still pending. The mood has been more than frosty since he switched to the SPD in 2019. His former city council colleagues voted against the resolution that made him interfaith commissioner in September. As a result, the CSU sent a sharp message to the responsible social department about how the new post was filled, how it is equipped and what specific duties and powers are associated with it. “I think that’s sad,” said Offman. “That is not a sign of human greatness.” The CSU emphasizes that it has nothing to do with the person Offman, but with the poor preparation of the office and the personalities by the social department. “This is not serious administrative action,” said parliamentary group leader Manuel Pretzl. Offman is recognized as a personality, “and he can do it too”.
The SPD is satisfied, the competence and the network of the city are preserved. “We are sure that he will be a good contact person for the possible exchange and that he WILL bring their issues and concerns to the top of the city, in the city council and in the city administration.” Offman can take away the concern that he is unnecessarily inflating the administration. He holds a purely honorary position, he says, which is anchored in the social department. “I don’t have an office of my own, I don’t get a cent for it,” he says. “It runs on my computer in my office.”
The concrete tasks still have to develop, and he wants to include the religious communities in the process. He will now visit her and try to institutionalize a regular meeting. The Council of Religions in Munich welcomes the fact that it will be available as a partner in the future. He is looking forward “to the cooperation and wishes all the best for the upcoming tasks”, congratulated the managing director Dietmar Frey on the social media immediately after the decision.