British Honorary Consul of Czech-Roma origin faces discrimination in Prague restaurant

Roma rights activist Petr Torák, who left the country after Neo-Nazi attacks, encounters discrimination in a Prague restaurant upon his return.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 10.06.2022 12:29:00 (updated on 12.06.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Former police officer and human rights activist Petr Torák left the Czech Republic due to discrimination in 1999. Upon his recent return visit to Prague, the Czech-Roma man endured a painful reminder of why he left over twenty years ago.

Torák recently took to social media to describe an incident that occured at a Prague restaurant over the weekend. He says that his restaurant experience reflects the deep prejudice the Roma community still faces in the Czech Republic.

On Sunday afternoon, following an interview he gave with Czech Radio, he says he sat down at Švejk restaurant near the Můstek metro station. He described what happened next on his Facebook account.

According to the post, Torák sat down at a table and asked the waiter for water with lemon and a menu. But 30 minutes later, the waiter still hadn't served Torák and continued to help other customers.

"After several attempts to get the attention of the waiter, he came but did not even apologize and unwillingly brought a small plastic bottle of water, put it on the table, and left," Torák writes in the post.

AGENCY PROPERTIES

Apartment for sale, 2+1 - 1 bedroom, 48m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for sale, 2+1 - 1 bedroom, 48m2

Okružní, Žďár nad Sázavou - Žďár nad Sázavou 3

Family house for rent, 170m<sup>2</sup>, 348m<sup>2</sup> of land

Family house for rent, 170m2, 348m2 of land

Jihovýchodní III, Praha 4 - Záběhlice

Office for rent, 660m<sup>2</sup>

Office for rent, 660m2

Revoluční, Praha 1 - Nové Město

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 25m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 25m2

Řipská, Praha 3 - Vinohrady

"10 minutes later, I lost my patience, I called him and told him I was not interested in this kind of service and that I was leaving. And the waiter replied, 'Well, finally!'"

The former police officer, who was named Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic in the United Kingdom, recently returned to his home country for a visit with his British colleagues, also of Roma descent.

Torák told Czech news server iDNES.cz that he was shocked by the waiter's treatment and left. "It simply came to my notice then, something like this had never happened to me in England. In addition, there was no reason not to serve me, I was decently dressed and I spoke politely," he said.

Torák says that the staff discriminated against him due to his Roma origin as everyone else was served without incident. He said his Roma companions had had similar experiences in another Prague restaurant and a hotel recently.

Have you ever felt discriminated against in Czech restaurants or seen it happen to other people?

Yes 75 %
No 25 %
168 readers voted on this poll. Voting is open

The restaurant denies that the waiter treated Torak differently. "There was no discrimination here. We have two Roma and two Mongolians employed here," said one of the restaurant's managers.

He added that if anyone felt discriminated against, they should have contacted them immediately and not addressed the issue on social media.

Torák's family left Liberec in North Bohemia after alleged repeated physical attacks by Neo-Nazis. In Britain, he worked for the local police for years, receiving an award from the Order of the British Empire for his work for the Roma community in 2015.

In the UK, he worked as a police officer, working with minorities and immigrant communities. He co-founded the community partnership COMPAS (Community Partnership Group), which served to provide education and leisure activities for the Czech and Slovak communities living in Peterborough. He created an association that aims to help Roma police officers.

Between 2018 and 2020, he served as a member of the Czech Government Council for Roma Minority Affairs, and a year later he became the Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic in Peterborough.

Despite Torák's recent experience, he believes that the attitude toward the Roma people in the Czech Republic is improving.

"People are no longer attacked as often. However, the system still needs to be improved. I want everyone, regardless of skin color, to feel that the Czech Republic is a safe country and a home," he added.

Recent data from the Interior Ministry suggests that the number of hate attacks on Roma people increased last year. The number of hate crimes targeting Roma people rose from 19 to 33 year on year. Last year, they made up 30.6 percent of all registered hate crimes.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more