Dunja Hayali (born 6 June 1974 in Datteln) is a German journalist and television presenter.
Early life and education
Dunja Hayali is the daughter of Iraqi Christians from Mosul. Her mother is Chaldean Catholic, and her father is Syrian Orthodox. Hayali herself is a Catholic and was an altar server when she was young. Her parents moved from Baghdad initially to Vienna to study medicine and pharmacy. When she was born, her father had a private practice in Datteln, with her mother assisting him. Hayali's older brother is also a doctor; her older sister worked as a physician assistant and later in a hospital. In her youth she participated intensively in sports: she played volleyball and soccer, practised judo and until she was 15 played tennis competitively.
She studied from 1995 to 1999 at the German Sport University Cologne, with a focus on Media and Communication Sciences and doing internships at German radio and television stations.
After graduation Hayali worked as a sports presenter for Deutsche Welle in Cologne / Bonn, as a freelancer for the private station Radio Cologne and as a presenter of the news program Journal on DW-TV in Berlin. Additionally Hayali presented some sports and news broadcasts on tv.nrw, a regional TV station in North Rhine-Westphalia that ceased operations in mid-2005.
In April 2007 Hayali became the presenter of the ZDF news programme heute, especially the weekday heute – in Deutschland news block and the weekend editions, and co-anchor of Heute Journal, usually with chief anchor Steffen Seibert. Since October 2007, she has also hosted the ZDF Morning Magazine; in October 2010 she succeeded Patricia Schäfer as chief anchor of the second half of the programme, from 7 to 9 am. Her last appearance as co-host on Heute Journal was on 21 September 2010.
Hayali has also been presenter at events such as the 2012 Berlin conference on renewable energy organised by the Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft. In summer 2016 she was scheduled for a series of four Thursday evening shows of her own.
Dunja Hayali won the 2016 Goldene Kamera in the category "Best Information". In her acceptance speech at the awards ceremony on 6 February 2016, she addressed herself to hatred that had recently been expressed towards her, saying in part:
In a country where freedom of opinion is so highly valued, everyone can and must be free to express their concerns and their fears, without immediately being placed on the right in the Nazi corner. But: if you express yourself in a racist way, then you are, too, a damned racist.
She received standing ovations, and the agency Spot on Newscalled the speech "one of the most moving and honorable moments on TV for a long time".
She has extensive tattoos on her right arm and back; these were first seen at the presentation of the Deutscher Fernsehpreis on 9 October 2010 in Cologne; on television they had always been covered.
Hayali is lesbian; in 2008 she announced that since 2007 she had been in a relationship with Mareike Arning, the vocalist of the punk-pop band Uschi's Orchester. The couple separated in 2011. She is a supporter of the anti-right-wing-extremist group Gesicht Zeigen!(Show Your Face!) and is an ambassador of the anti-racism initiative Respekt! Kein Platz für Rassismus (Respect! No place for racism).
In February 2016, the State Court of Hamburg declared a preliminary injunction forbidding a Facebook user from making offensive hate comments on Hayali's Facebook page and setting a fine of up to 250,000 euros for any violations of the injunction.
- with Elena Senft. Is’ was, Dog? Mein Leben mit Hund und Haaren. Berlin: Ullstein, 2014, ISBN 978-3-86493-021-8; 2015, ISBN 978-3-548-37592-2 (German).