Thousands of Greeks rallied in Athens on Sunday against the impending introduction of biometric ID cards, denouncing what they see as a move towards a surveillance society.

“No to electronic slavery” and “democracy has referendums, fascism decrees,” were two common slogans at a rally which police put at 2,500 strong.

“We don’t want our personal data to be used,”, said one marcher, Dionysis Alexopoulos. “Perhaps with this new card they’ll be able to control our access to hospitals or other public places if for example we aren’t vaccinated,” he mused.

“This serious subject should be put to a referendum and not decided anti-democratically by the government,” said another marcher, Sofia Kanelopoulou.

A protester holds a religious icon during a rally against the issuance of a new type of identity card, in Athens, Greece, Sunday, September 10, 2023. Photo: AAP/AP/Yorgos Karahalis

The Greek government announced last week that the procedure for obtaining new identity cards would begin on September 25, noting Greece’s obligation to comply with European regulations on “strengthening the security” of ID documents.

All members of the bloc must issue new biometric cards by 2026 in line with a 2019 treaty.

Last Sunday, more than 2,000 people rallied in Thessaloniki, despite assurances from Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis that the new cards had “neither a chip nor a camera”.

The head of the Orthodox Church of Greece, Archbishop Ieronymos, last week urged “prudence and wisdom”, and said the holy synod, the church’s supreme ecclesiastical body, would be pronouncing on this subject.

In 2000, the removal of the mention of religion on Greek identity cards sparked huge in a country whose powerful Orthodox Church is not separated from the state.

Source: AFP