Rallies planned around Greece against new protest law

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Demonstrations are being planned in Athens and around 40 other Greek cities and towns to oppose plans by the center-right government to restrict public protests.

Many of the rallies planned for later Thursday have been backed by the Greek Communist Party, while labor unions and Greece’s left-wing main opposition party have also organized rallies.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ year-old conservative government says it is determined to stop small protest gatherings from disrupting traffic and commercial activity.

“The right to hold peaceful gatherings must be protected … but it must be done in a way that will not interrupt the activity of an entire city,” Mitsotakis told parliament on the second and final day of debate.

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Critics of the proposed reforms include the Athens Bar Association and parliament’s own legislative review committee. They argue that plans to prosecute protesters attending unsanctioned rallies and to hold protest organizers responsible for damage caused if rallies turn violent are legally troublesome.

The government said it had added several clarifications to the bill to address those concerns.

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