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Anti-austerity demonstrators stage protest in Athens

Protesters wave a Greek flag during an anti-austerity protest rally in Athens, Greece, June 29, 2015.

Hundreds of Greeks have staged a rally in Athens to protest the government’s strict austerity measures, including proposed steep cuts in public spending and an increase in taxes.

The protesters converged on Syntagma Square in downtown Athens on Sunday, waving the Greek national flag and carrying banners reading “Enough” and “Enough, out of the Euro” in Greek.

The participants also held placards with anti-austerity and anti-EU messages, including “Austerity kills,” “Imprisoned in the European Union and NATO” and “Finally, we give you your flag and your euro back.”

“We are expressing our opposition against a genocidal type of austerity that is being implemented throughout Europe and we are claiming democracy in our country, freedom and egalitarianism,” Stelios Moschos, a protester, said.

Anti-austerity protesters are seen during a demonstration in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Reuters)

Greeks are protesting the proposed new set of laws aimed at raising social security contributions, increasing income taxes for high earners, and introducing a new national pension.

The laws are being introduced under the terms of an international multi-billion-euro bailout the government signed up to last year.

The cash-strapped government in Athens hopes the legislation would help persuade international creditors to approve the release of bailout cash.

Athens is now reportedly at loggerheads with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) — one of its lenders —over a demand to make extra state savings.

The creditors have already granted Greece two bailout loans — one in 2010 and the other in 2012, worth a total of 240 billion euros (USD 272 billion).

An economic crisis hit the country back in 2009. Since then, Greece has witnessed a high unemployment rate and numerous labor protests.

Anti-fascism protests

Separately, hundreds of anti-fascism protesters, carrying banners reading “Smash fascism” and “Hang the fascists” marched toward Chorofilaki School Park in Athens, where the far-right Golden Dawn political party had organized a festival.

A supporter of the Greek ultra-nationalist party Golden Dawn holds a torch during a gathering of Greek nationalists in central Athens to commemorate the death of three Greek military officers, January 30, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Golden Dawn members tried to provoke the counter-protesters. They chanted “Hooray for nationalism, long live the leader” in Greek.

Anti-riot police forces were at the scene and police buses barricaded the street between the anti-fascism protesters and the Golden Dawn supporters. There were reports of clashes.

Described by scholars and media as neo-Nazi and fascist, Golden Dawn has seen its support rising over the past years.

The ultra-nationalist party is particularly accused of being involved in the 2013 murder of Pavlos Fyssas, a 34-year-old anti-fascist singer.

Golden Dawn has also been accused of running a criminal group that allegedly encouraged the beating and the killing of political opponents and migrants.

Golden Dawn, however, has dismissed the accusations as groundless.

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