Ironically, Athens, the birthplace of democracy, has instituted a complete ban on protests, strikes, marches and demonstrations.
Despite the promise of potential jail time, more than 80,000 Greeks crowded the streets of Athens today.
The object of their rage was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in the beleaguered country for a 6 hour visit to meet with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
Merkel was personally welcomed at the airport by Samaras, with full military honors, as the Greek and German national anthems were played. However Merkel’s reception in downtown Athens the scene was far less hospitable, where she was greeted with Nazi salutes, swastika flags and an angry crowd informing her that she was unwelcome by the citizens of the country.
6000 riot police were deployed to hold the protesters at bay. Violence erupted when the enraged crowd rushed the barriers, pelting police with rocks, bottles, sticks and several petrol bombs. Police defended Merkel and her delegation with tear gas and stun grenades, as they arrested dozens of protesters.
Merkel delivered a statement as she stood alongside Samaras, stating that
“Germany wants to be a good partner and a real friend. I hope and I wish that Greece remains as part of the euro. We really can see light at the end of the tunnel.”
The light Merkel sees could be coming from the glow of the additional €13.5 billion ($17.5 billion) in new austerity measures. The Greeks have been crippled by wage slashes and tax increases. Unemployment, hunger and homelessness are at an all-time high as more and more cuts are demanded in order to receive bailout money from the EU.
Germany has been Athens’ strongest critic, insisting that Greeks take on even more austerity measures and reforms to rectify their economy.
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