The presence of a new Montreal chapter of a right-wing nationalist Greek party is polarizing members of Montreal's Greek community.

Golden Dawn won 18 seats in Greece's recent election.

The party's anti-immigrant stance is considered racist, anti-immigration and anti-Semitic by many in the international community.

The party seeks to maintain "the Greek race" and wants Christian Greeks to reclaim the country, which they say has been taken over by illegal immigrants.

"We are Greek nationalists," said Golden Dawn's deputy leader in Montreal, Spiros Macrozonaris. "We love our country. We are not fascists. We are not anti-immigrants. We are not neo-Nazis. We are Greeks, and we love our country. That's all."

But some members of Montreal's Greek community say Macriozonaris' words don't allay their concerns. They point to the group's logo, which bears a resemblance to the Nazi swastika, and to the party's salute, which is similar to the Hitler army's infamous arm gesture.

Louis Hondronicolas, a member of Golden Dawn, said the concerns are misplaced.

"Maybe you've seen pictures, and there are a lot of them being photoshopped – although… that salute is an ancient salute, and it was used by [Ioannis] Metaxas when he fought the Nazi," said Hondronicolas. "Our party has nothing to do with Nazis or neo-Nazis."

Montreal's Greek community reacts

When CBC News asked members of the local Greek community how they felt about the party, many of them said although they don't condone Golden Dawn's violent actions, they understand the sentiment that there are too many illegal immigrants in their homeland.

A woman said "I feel very bad because we had enough problems witht he fascists when they invaded Greece in 1941 with Hitler and Mussolini. I don't want to see another Hitler in Mussolini in my country because now it's not the Germans or the Italians, they are the Greeks."

B'nai Brith calls for vigilance

Steven Slimovitch, spokesperson for the B'nai Brith Canada, which advocates against racism and anti-Semitism, said he wants the city's Hellenic community to take a stand.

"We trust the Hellenic community will come forward and do much like the Greek government has done and say that Golden Dawn party is not welcome, that they're a racist party, and they espouse racist views," said Slimovitch.

He added that groups that spew hate against other groups have no place on Canadian soil.

Golden Dawn made international headlines in June when a spokesman for the party slapped a member of the opposition in the face on live television.

Ken Matziorinis, an economics professor at McGill University, said the party's popularity has picked up in the last two years because of the country's precarious financial situation.

He said that situation is similar to the socio-economic turmoil faced in Germany in the 1920s, which led to the rise of fascism and Nazism.

Related on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • France

    <em>France's far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen, and candidate for the 2012 French legislative elections speaks as she campaigns for the party during a press conference in Henin Beaumont, northern France, Monday May 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)</em><br><br> France's anti-immigrant National Front was in parliament until 1986, when new rules made it harder for small parties to make it in. Its leaders, first Jean-Marie Le Pen and now his daughter Marine, have featured prominently in presidential elections and maintained a national following. Marine Le Pen came in a strong third place in presidential elections this month, earning more than 6 million votes, and is angling to get National Front candidates back in parliament in legislative elections next month. While Jean-Marie Le Pen has been convicted and fined a few times for racism and anti-Semitism, Marine Le Pen has sought to soften the party's message, and turned its anger toward what she calls the "Islamization" of France. Those ideas have entered the mainstream discourse, notably in former President Nicolas Sarkozy's push to ban face-covering Islamic veils and keep halal meat out of public cafeterias. He also made reducing immigration a pillar of his presidency.

  • Austria

    <em>The leader of Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), Heinz-Christian Strache (C) celebrates with his supporters on October 10, 2010 after municipal elections in Vienna. (DIETER NAGL/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> The right-wing Freedom Party consistently polls a close second in popularity to the leading Social Democrats, reflecting the resonance of its anti-immigrant, Euro-skeptic message. It counts the neo-Nazi fringe among its supporters and its leaders' occasional anti-Semitic comments are widely condemned by other parties. Its main draw with voters is Islamophobia. It holds 34, or 1.5 percent of the seats in parliament compared to the nearly 27 percent won in 1999. That result catapulted it into a government coalition - and led to EU sanctions against Austria. In response to their gains, the federal government has toughened asylum rules and introduced compulsory German courses for immigrants.

  • Netherlands

    <em>The leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV), Geert Wilders, casts his vote for the country's 12 provincial councils on March 2, 2011 in a school in The Hague as the PVV Senate leader Machiel de Graaf (L) smiles. (ROBIN UTRECHT/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> The Freedom Party of anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders became the third largest bloc in the Dutch Parliament in 2010 elections with 24 seats. The result turned Wilders into a kingmaker who agreed to support the minority coalition of Prime Minister Mark Rutte on crucial votes in return for concessions such as a crackdown in immigration and a ban on the Islamic veil, the burqa. Wilders, a Euro-skeptic, brought down Rutte's government last month when he refused to support an austerity package aimed at cutting the country's budget deficit to within the EU norm of 3 percent of GDP.

  • Italy

    <em>Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (R) flanked by former Alleanza Nazionale (National Alliance) Gianfranco Fini (L) gestures during their first party meeting at the Palalido on March 08, 2008 in Milan. (GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> The Italian Social Movement, which saw itself as the heir of Benito Mussolini's Fascist party, was Italy's fourth largest party in the decades after the war, gaining up to 6 percent in some cases. But mainstream parties refused any alliance with it so it was kept out of the postwar governing coalitions. It campaigned against immigration and sought tough law enforcement, and some fringe members were linked to right-wing violence. In the early 1990s it morphed into the National Alliance and under party leader Gianfranco Fini moved into the mainstream: It shed its hardline roots, decried anti-Semitism and Mussolini's racial laws, and became a major ally of ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi. Fini had to pull back from a statement in a newspaper interview that Mussolini was one of the greatest statesmen of the 20th century.

  • <em>Hungarian citizens wave flags during a demonsstration called by far-right parliamental party 'Jobbik' against European Union at European Union Parliament and Commitee headquarters in downtown Budapest on January 14, 2012. (FERENC ISZA/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Hungary's Jobbik party - The Movement for a Better Hungary - won nearly 17 percent of the national vote in the 2010 parliamentary elections and is currently the second-largest opposition party in the legislature, behind the Socialists. Jobbik's popularity is highest in Hungary's northeast region, the country's poorest, and some of its support came from its pledge to fight what it calls "Gypsy crime." From 2009, uniformed groups closely tied to Jobbik, such as The Hungarian Guard, set up patrols in countryside villages to "protect" residents from Gypsies, but such activities have been banned under the current, center-right government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The Guard and several other such groups use some colors, slogans and symbols of the far-right nationalist parties of the 1930s, and its rhetoric is sometimes anti-Semitic, racist and anti-gay. Racist comments by Jobbik deputies have drawn condemnation from the rest of the parties and Orban's governing Fidesz party's two-thirds majority has allowed it to not make any concessions to Jobbik in the legislature. At the same time, some of the themes Jobbik promotes can also be found to a smaller or larger degree in Orban's policies.

  • Denmark

    <em>Danish police clash with demonstrators supporting of a group of rejected Iraqi asylum seekers outside Brorsons Church in Copenhagen early on August 13, 2009. (Andreas Hagemann Bro/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> The anti-immigrant Danish People's Party is Denmark's third largest party and has pushed the country to adopt some of Europe's strictest immigration laws, leading to a drastic cut in the number of refugees seeking shelter there to just over 5,000 in 2011, from 13,000 in 2001. Last year, it also pushed through a plan to reinstate custom checks at Denmark's borders with Germany and Sweden. Both the European Union and Germany sharply criticized the move, with the EU accusing Denmark of violating the spirit of EU rules on free movement for goods and people.