In March this year, German public broadcaster Westdeutscher Rundfunk aired a 75-minute television documentary following five Muslim women wearing headscarves. In the film ” My head. My Scarf” (Mein Kopf, mein Tuch), the women talk about how they do not want to constantly justify their decision to wear the headscarf. According to WDR, the women shown in the documentary are united by “the conviction that prejudices can be overcome by dialogue, openness and commitment”.
Among those portrayed is Houaida Taraji, who runs her own practice as a gynaecologist in North Rhine-Westphalia. Many people in Germany still cannot imagine that women wearing headscarves are also doctors. That is why it is basically a good idea to confront the audience with such prejudices. However, Houaida Taraji is clearly the wrong choice of protagonist for this.
What is not mentioned in the film is the 55-year-old’s many years as an official for the German Muslim Community (DMG), which until 2018 was called the Islamic Community in Germany (IGD). According to the latest report on the protection of the constitution, this association is considered “the central organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany”. This implies that it wants to establish a social and political system based on Sharia law, the report continues. Taraji says she was vice-president from 2006 to 2010 and, according to the register of associations at Cologne’s local court, a member of the association’s board between 2015 and 2018. She is also a board member of the Central Council of Muslims.
Taraji’s husband Almoutaz Tayara also made an appearance in the documentary and talked about having first met his wife while eating ice cream together. Until 2020, Tayara was the chairman of the board of the aid organisation Islamic Relief Germany, which, according to the German government, has “significant personal connections to the Muslim Brotherhood”. Tayara attracted attention in 2014 through Facebook postings glorifying the Kassam Brigades, which belong to the Islamist terror organisation Hamas, and portraying the then US President Barack Obama as a Jew.
WDR viewers are also left in the dark about this background. The broadcaster simply presents Taraji and Tayara as completely normal Muslims, although they were active for years as functionaries for Islamist organisations. When asked by Sigrid Herrmann-Marschall, an expert on Islamism, the editor in charge even admits that the background was known. “In the documentary, the Taraji couple advocates an open society and thus shows no connection whatsoever to extremist theories,” the newspaper’s WELT reply states. As if uncritical portrayal is only problematic when extremism is openly manifested.
But this is not so. Those who make functionaries of political Islam legitimate representatives of Muslims act at the expense of those freedom-loving Muslims and people from Muslim families who want nothing to do with patriarchal sexual and honour concepts as well as rigid norms of behaviour, dress and gender. WDR has made matters worse by the documentary editors’ explanation that the links to the Muslim Brotherhood were deliberately ignored because the film was limited to the present due to time constraints.