Commentary: David Mezei, false prophet, and the Romani elite of the Czech Republic
I haven't been able to figure out how to begin this piece. It might have been ideal to begin it by inserting a clip from David Mezei's live broadcast threatening to kill somebody in all kinds of ways, declaring himself "the executioner", ultimately even publicly sharpening an actual knife while speaking on social media about how he is going to carve up his opponent.
In just five minutes, Mezei uses hundreds of the worst kind of vulgarities while making his threats. At the end he then "heroically" verbally attacks the wife of his opponent and perversely describes how he plans to rape her.
Are these the features of a psychopath whom nobody should take seriously? Yes, they are.
Be careful, though - Mezei is becoming a Romani prophet here in the Czech Republic. He shouts his abuse at people, rants and raves, makes threats... and now it's all in "the name of God".
Hijacking the memorial gathering in Teplice
It has not been that long since a Romani man, Stanislav Tomáš, died in Teplice, Czech Republic, under strange circumstances - he did not survive an intervention against him by police. The matter has sparked significant controversy and the result has been a criminal report filed against the police by the attorney for the Tomáš family, Maroš Matiaško.
It was the Konexe association that convinced Matiaško to take the case. At the same time, people from Konexe arranged for basic assistance to be provided to Simona Tomášová, the sister of the deceased, and organized a memorial gathering for her brother.
Instead of that event being strictly a commemoration, it became an unplanned demonstration by Romani community members (who orchestrated that outcome behind Konexe's back), one that almost ended in another intervention by police. Who was the main "star" of that protest?
David Mezei. Yes, the same Mezei who described how he would carve somebody up and rape his wife, also the same Mezei who is infamous on Facebook for collecting money from the poorest of poor Romani people for allegedly charitable purposes.
Where exactly the money they send him ends up is an open question. What is apparent. though, is that Mezei has managed his fundraising with such perfection that his viewers are glad to send them their cash.
Mezei has not been lazy recently, every day he has broadcast live for several hours on Facebook, broadcasts full of disinformation, lies, and requests for money. Among other absolute absurdities he has also been telling a little tale about how the activists from Konexe have allegedly joined forces with the police and how, with the aid of their hired lawyer, a secret plot exists to end the case and to order the cremation of Mr Tomáš so as to get rid of any evidence of how he died.
From one day to the next, the activists from Konexe who have assisted hundreds of people in northern Bohemia over the years have become outcasts who must be beaten up, at a minimum. Following Mezei's lead, none of his followers on social media have felt any need to keep their own insults or threats against the activists to themselves.
During Mezei's live broadcasts, absolutely open, public threats have begun to be made by his followers against all of the people helping the Tomáš family. That included threats against the evangelical parson Mikuláš Vymětal, who has been constantly accused by Mezei and his followers of not being a real clergyman.
"Private detective" and "lawyer" all in one
Ranting and raving on Facebook was not enough, though - the viewers of Mezei's live broadcasts have declared that he is the only person who is able to solve this case, so he got into a rental car and had people send him money for gas and a hotel so he could "investigate" it for the next several days. As always, he broadcast all of his doings live through the social network.
One could watch live in real time as he visited the police, then the undertaker's, and ultimately the morgue - all on a public holiday - in a frantic search for the dead body of Mr Tomáš. During this search he ranted and raved, inciting Romani people against the gadje [non-Roma], and constantly allowed himself to be assured by those commenting to him on Facebook in real time that he is the only person who can solve the case because God has sent him to do so.
Mezei filmed the sister of the late Stanislav Tomáš sitting in the back seat of his rental car during these excursions, and she was apparently unable to recall that in fact, she had already taken the clothing for her dead brother to wear in his coffin to the mortuary service together with Konexe member Miroslav Brož, that she agreed for her brother's body to be sent to that particular funeral parlor - and therefore she should know where his body is. That aspect did not fit Mezei's script, though.
Simona Tomášová, who essentially was abducted by Mezei, can be seen following all of his instructions during these broadcasts. Among other matters, she has, perhaps unintentionally, ordered a coffin that will cost EUR 3 000, and allegedly Mezei is going to pay for it by fundraising among the Romani community.
That purchase order is not written in Mezei's name, though, as one might anticipate. It's in Ms Tomášová's name.
The funeral as currently ordered is going to cost CZK 200 000 [EUR 7 795], give or take. Mezei has been presenting himself as the hot shot, but somebody else is going to foot the bill.
The biggest Romani demonstration in Czech history?
All of this culminated in an attempt to occupy a square in the regional seat of Ústí nad Labem with a demonstration. Mezei and Co. predicted that it would be attended by thousands of Romani people not just from all over the Czech Republic, but from England, Germany and Slovakia.
The Romani nation was said to have risen up to fight for the "one divine truth" - and no, I am not making this up, I am just quoting what Mezei said in his Facebook broadcasts. What was the actual outcome?
Two hundred people came together on that enormous square. Under normal circumstances that kind of turnout would actually be considered quite good, but from the perspective of these broadcasters it was an absolute debacle.
Why is that? Well, Mezei had been constantly assuring his followers that he would lead the nation into battle and that tens of thousands of Roma would come with him onto the square.
If you're expecting him to engage in a period of self-criticism when the numbers did not meet his predictions, though, you are mistaken. It is the Romani people who failed to show up who are to blame, so Mezei has at least begun to sell t-shirts about the event through Facebook (where else).
Up to this point this story has just been about a person who has found a solid way for other people to cover his cost of living. There is probably not much point in discussing the fact that raising money this way is illegal in the Czech Republic, and if the amount of money raised exceeds CZK 5 000 [EUR 195] it is felony fraud, especially if it can be proven that Mezei did not use all the money for charitable purposes, but instead used it to cover his own personal needs.
It's also probably useless to discuss the fact that Mezei has many people around him who admire him unreservedly and who would immediately attack anybody who disagrees with him. Public threats to beat up both men and women, or to kill them, or to brutally rape them, insults of the heaviest caliber... all this has become the absolute norm in this circle of people.
There is another problem here, though, which is a problem for all of us. Nowhere, not even among the Nazis on Czech social media, have I ever seen so much concentrated hatred and pure racism as I have witnessed in the groups around Mezei.
It's just a matter of time before a tabloid reporter or fascist politician notices this too and decides to present Mezei's opinions and those of his followers as the opinions of all Romani people. Mezei is presenting himself live, in real time, as the king of the Roma and several hundreds of social media users - sometimes several thousand - are publicly expressing support for him and all he does and says.
Why are elite Roma silent?
Why are elite Roma here pretending that none of this happening? Why is the Romani community not objecting to this person who may well be committing a crime (or at least a misdemeanor) and who is extracting money from the very people for whose bare existence we have been fighting for 30 years here?
Why are we not standing up for the activists who have a long track record and a great deal of work behind them? Why is the Roma Luma group, which has political ambitions, collaborating with Mezei at all?
How in God's name is it possible that some representatives of the Roma elite are even collaborating with these people? Why is the Czech Helsinki Committee even communicating with them?
Where the hell are we now? Mezei is an extremist, for God's sake!
For the last 30 years we have been defining ourselves as against different extremist racists, for 30 years we have been living under fire from all the different variations of the Workers Party, the Sládeks, the Okamuras and other groups. Now we are watching an extremist Romani man who is doing the very same thing as they do, watching it live in real time in the broad light of day.
If I were to count the number of people whom Mezei has publicly made threats against, or insulted, or sent his online thugs to attack, they would number in the dozens, maybe even hundreds. I myself was personally targeted with outrageous insults and threats when I publicly objected to him.
Others who have been targeted are the ROMEA organization and Romani community member Emil Voráč. If we all condemn extremist gadje, then we must also condemn extremist Romani people.
Mezei incites Romani people against the majority society
It is against the majority society that Mezei has been inciting the Romani community. He is using the most aggressive, manipulative techniques and attacking the most sensitive aspects that we, as Romani people, all have as part of our makeup.
Mezei speaks a lot about our Romani traditions. He is abusing them for his personal gain.
His aggression is downright contagious and his adherents are already just as aggressive as he is. It is Mezei who is saying live on Facebook that if several hundred Romani people were to engage in physical conflict, they would finally earn some respect in this country.
Once Mezei's followers actually go into such a conflict, he will be responsible for it. Romale, why aren't you asking more about where exactly Mezei has put the money you have given him?
What did he do with the money he has raised - not the money using the transparent account that now exists, but the money he instead had sent to his relatives' personal accounts? Is he explaining to you that you are sponsoring his living expenses?
Will the work of a recognized attorney be destroyed?
Mezei is not just damaging his Romani followers, though. He is harming the very investigation of the death of Stanislav Tomáš.
Is there any lawyer, official or police officer who even remotely cares about the "orders" being issued to them by Mezei about how they should proceed with the case, a man who crowdsources such advice on Facebook? Is anybody here going to address the fact that the real experts in the nonprofit community are not willing to listen to Mezei's dishonesty, swearing, and threats of all kinds and therefore might stop cooperating on this case altogether if he in fact gains sway over the Tomáš family?
How will Ms Tomášová cope if Mezei doesn't actually raise the money to pay the huge bill for the grandiose funeral he has invented? Last but not least, who will help her when Mezei leaves the scene - although according to the latest reports, he is heading back to Teplice as I write this?
Who else but we elite Roma are supposed to demonstrate at this point that we have actually made progress during these last 30 years? Who else but we are meant to show that we Roma long ago stopped being an unemployable group dependent on welfare, that we are educated, that we want to live in the Czech Republic in exactly the same conditions as the rest of society?
If not us, then who else here is supposed to say that extremists of any skin color have no place in this country? It's 2021!
Today it is not unusual for me to meet Romani people who are doctors, lawyers or mechanics. It's not surprising to me to see a Romani man driving the tram that I take to work, or working behind the counter at the post office when I send a letter.
That's what we call progress. What Mezei is doing is high-caliber primitivism, and unfortunately he is seducing many others into doing the same.
Mezei is showing us the road back to a place where none of us want to be. If we actually have made progress, then we must object to this primitive violence.
The rules apply equally to all. That's what we have been trying to achieve during these last 30 years.
The author is a journalist for news server iDNES.cz in the Czech Republic.
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