Spanish-style drive to fill squares with protesters

Several online initiatives are appealing to disenchanted Greeks to flock to the main squares of their cities this afternoon and protest the repercussions of the government?s austerity drive on jobs and quality of life.

Imitating a successful anti-austerity campaign by Spanish demonstrators – chiefly young people – that has filled Madrid?s main Puerta del Sol Square with crowds for more than a week, the Greek groups are using social networking sites such as Facebook to drum up support.

One of the groups, called ?The Exasperated of Syntagma,? calls on Athenians to gather in central Syntagma Square outside Parliament between 6 and 11.30 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Spanish protests have been rather more radical, with most protesters camping overnight in squares where chemical toilets have been set up.

An estimated 5,000 people are expected to attend the Athens gathering and have no intention of causing any trouble, the organizers say. ?We want to rally peacefully and spontaneously, simply to declare our peaceful protest,? the organizers said in a statement.

Another group, ?The Exasperated of the White Tower,? has appealed to residents of Thessaloniki to gather under the city landmark on Wednesday.

The rally in the northern port city is expected to attract a larger turnout, in excess of 8,000, according to confirmations of attendance on Facebook.

A third group, with the more rousing name of ?Patras Greek Revolution,? plans to gather some 3,000 demonstrators in the western port?s central Georgiou Square. This group, too, has declared its opposition to violence and has held up the ongoing Spanish protest as a model for Greeks to emulate.

?Let us start a peaceful revolution in our city, beyond political parties, without upheaval, masks and violence, following the footsteps of our Spanish brothers and sisters,? a statement by the group said.

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