OTTAWA — A Muslim organization said Tuesday it will sue Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his spokesman for libel unless they retract and apologize for a statement linking the group to Hamas.

Canada lists Hamas as a banned terrorist organization.

“To say that our organization has illegal affiliations is deeply offensive to us and to Canadians of all faiths and backgrounds and only serves to reinforce ugly stereotypes about Canadian Muslims,” Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), told a press conference.

He pointed to Harper spokesman Jason MacDonald’s comments to a Canadian media outlet earlier this month.

The NCCM had asked the prime minister’s office to bar a rabbi accused of links to an American anti-Muslim “hate group” from Harper’s first official trip last week to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

MacDonald responded saying: “We will not take seriously criticism from an organization with documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas.”