Dunja Hayali | Journalist, Television presenter
* 6 June 1974 in Datteln, Germany
Dunja Hayali is one of the most important voices taking a stand against racism and right-wing extremism in Germany. The journalist and television presenter has been an anchor on the current affairs morning show on German broadcaster ZDF since 2007. And now also presents her own talk show ‘dunja hayali’ and ‘ZDF sportstudio’.
Dunja is a strong, passionate person who doesn’t mince her words. She supports various organisations, such as „Gesicht Zeigen! Für ein weltoffenes Deutschland“ (Show your face – for an open-minded Germany), and is a member of the supervisory board for Save the Children. For years she has actively campaigned against racism, antisemitism and bigotry.
Born in 1974 in North Rhine-Westphalia to Iraqi parents, Dunja was always interested in sports. She studied at the German Sports University Cologne and afterwards started working as a TV presenter. Since being in the public eye, the issue of racism has become an integral part of Dunja’s life. She has been insulted and threatened because of her heritage and drive, especially on social media. But she has never let herself be intimidated. Quite the opposite in fact, the journalist repeatedly reports on the shift to the right and doesn’t shy away from conflict. Dunja always seeks dialogue and a multifaceted political debate. Getting to the bottom of the issue at hand and finding out what’s behind it is essential. She’s not at all afraid to encounter new territory and is determined to live in a society that’s free and tolerant.
Dunja combines activism and TV presenting, winning both Germany’s prestigious Golden Camera and the Federal Cross of Merit over the space of two years. She’s also become an important figurehead for Germans with a migration background, someone they can identify with. In her book Haymatland, she describes what it’s like to be made feel like a foreigner in your own country. „I never felt like I wasn’t German. It was only when I appeared on television that people started asking questions about my home country. Today I ask myself: Which Germany do I want to live in and do we all really want to live in?
Dunja Hayali continues to take a stand to this day and doesn’t allow herself to be made feel like a foreigner in her home country.