Skip to main content
European Commission logo
Migration and Home Affairs

Family counselling Hayat-Deutschland

Target Audience
key themes association
Foreign Terrorist Fighters and their familiesIslamist extremism
Peer Reviewed practice


ZDK Society Democratic Culture

ZDK Society Democratic Culture champions the fundamental values of freedom and dignity throughout Germany. Our initiatives serve to prevent and raise awareness of violence and extremism.

We challenge terrorist and radical ideological movements like right-wing extremism and Islamism that counter fundamental freedoms and human rights. Our mission is the idea of a functioning liberal, democratic, humane, and inclusive democracy.

The ZDK Society Democratic Culture was founded in 2003, developing from the Centre for Democratic Culture (ZDK) that was founded in Berlin in 1997. The society is led by graduate criminologist Dr Bernd Wagner.

Type of Organisation: NGO

Project description

HAYAT (Turkish and Arabic for “Life”) is the first German counselling programme for persons involved in radical Salafist groups or on the path of a violent Jihadist radicalisation, including those traveling to Syria and other combat zones. Further, HAYAT is available to the relatives of a radicalised person as well.

Since January 2012, HAYAT has been the partner of the German Federal Office for Immigration and Refugee Affairs (Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge BAMF), which established a national counselling hotline on radicalisation (‘Beratungsstelle Radikalisierung’). Taking calls from relatives and other concerned persons, the hotline provides a first-line assessment to then redirect the calls to local, non-governmental partners like HAYAT.

HAYAT can also be contacted directly via email or telephone. During the first contact, HAYAT experts will conduct an analysis and risk assessment of the respective situation to determine the counselling demand and to answer the most important questions in the beginning: Is the relative in danger of becoming (violently) radicalised? Or is it a harmless case of conversion to Islam?

Once the counsellor gained a clear picture of the concrete situation, an individual counselling process and step by step plan will be designed, including various measures to prevent further radicalisation or to stop and reverse the process. The counselling is conducted systematically, situationally and problem-solution-oriented. Our services are free, confidential and available in German, English and Arabic.

With our experience and expertise we accompany persons, who don’t want to lose their radicalised relative or friend and try to understand and win him/her back.

We counsel, provide contacts and listen.

We make a clear differentiation between a strong, lived faith and an ideology of inequality that can result in violence and terrorism.

We assist in identifying alarming signals and show limits of what is possible.
We provide new perspectives and accompany the cases for as long as necessary.

Among those turning to HAYAT for advice are many relatives of persons who are about to travel abroad (e.g. to Syria), are already there or have even returned to their home countries. HAYAT follows three main goals:

  1. Try everything possible to convince them to voluntarily refrain from traveling abroad.
  2. If they are abroad, convince them to stop fighting and return.

Ensure the persons return to a safe and controlled positive social environment.


This practice has led to plenty of deliverables, such as handbooks, trainings and academic articles, as well as political counselling, networks etc.

In cooperation with exit Germany, we are hosting a nationally and internationally-oriented research institute as well as the open access journal on deradicalisation Journal Exit Deutschland (JEX).

More information here.

Contact details


ZDK Gesellschaft Demokratische Kultur gGmbH
10249 Berlin,

Contact person: Julia Berczyk
Telephone: (+49) (0) 15 778 820 645
Email | Website

Read the full practice

26 MAY 2021
Family counselling Hayat-Deutschland
(171.42 KB - PDF)