Dominik Feri (1996- )

Dominik Feri
Dominik Feri

Until his abrupt resignation from office, Dominik Feri, the youngest-ever and first African-descended legislator in the Czech Parliament, had been a rock star of European politics and a darling of the press. Born July 11, 1996, in Kadaň, Czech Republic, he is the son of a Czech woman and an Ethiopian father. Feri grew up in the city of Teplice, 31 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of Prague, the nation’s capital. At age 18, he ran as an independent candidate for a seat on the city council of Teplice; he was defeated but months later was seated on the council as a member of the TOP 09 Party. The following year he enrolled as a student in the Faculty of Law at Univerzita Karlova (Charles University) in Prague.

The engine of Feri’s success was his adept use of social media and his cultivation of a chic, youthful persona. At the height of his celebrity, it was estimated his @choco_afro Instagram following exceeded 1 million. He played jazz piano in nightclubs and his huge, bushy, eye-catching Afro hairstyle demanded attention and further endeared him to young, politically liberal voters. In 2016, Feri made his first run for a seat in the lower house Chamber of Deputies in the Czech Parliament but was defeated. A second try on October 21, 2017 was successful.

In 2019, Feri joined in a vote of no confidence in the government of populist billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. A stalwart supporter of the European Union and an outspoken critic of both the Czech far right and communists, he employed cutting humor and clever remarks in branding the opposition. Asked about his treatment as a rare man of color in his country he confessed: “(There is) constant mockery and threats by some people. Or, even worse, many people won’t even take you seriously.” His high profile in national politics was the reason he was injured in a racially motivated assault by two men in April 2019 that hospitalized him. The men punched Feri and cut his back as one of them shouted “niggers had no right to be in politics at all.”

As a member of the Constitutional and Legal Committee, faced with the COVID-19 pandemic Feri faulted government incompetence for, among other things, not bothering to establish a website to inform the public about strategies to fight the virus. He commented: “If the population doesn’t understand the purpose of the measures, how can they follow them properly?” He eventually met with the prime minister and others to remedy the situation.

Feri once admitted to a reporter that he had no intention of “staying in politics forever.” His exit came much sooner than he expected when, starting in April 2021, several women accused him of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and rape. More women, some of them underage, came forth with similar charges that were alleged to have occurred between 2015 and 2020. Ironically, known for his endorsement of já taky pohyb (#MeToo), on May 25, Feri announced his resignation from Parliament and indicated he would not participate in the fall election. Shortly thereafter, Feri, still wealthy and single, sheared his trademark Afro.