A Muslim organization on Monday sued Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his spokesman for libel for linking the group to Hamas, which is banned as a terrorist organization in Canada, AFP reported.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), which filed the claim in Ontario Superior Court, had asked the prime minister's office in January to bar a rabbi accused of links to an American anti-Muslim "hate group" from Harper's first official trip to Israel.
Harper spokesman Jason MacDonald responded by saying, "We will not take seriously criticism from an organization with documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas."
The comment was made to a Canadian media outlet, according to AFP.
NCCM asked for a retraction and an apology, but none were forthcoming, prompting Monday's lawsuit.
"This false accusation against the NCCM is of the most serious kind imaginable and was made in an attempt to discredit the NCCM and undermine its ability to conduct its public work," NCCM executive director Ihsaan Gardee said in a statement quoted by the news agency.
"In order to uphold its good name, the NCCM has no choice but to issue a statement of claim for defamation against Mr. MacDonald and the prime minister," he added.
In April, Canada blacklisted the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy-Canada (IRFAN-Canada) as a terrorist entity.
Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, Steven Blaney, explained at the time that the reason for the blacklist was due to the fact that between 2005 and 2009, IRFAN-Canada transferred approximately $14.6 million worth of resources to various organizations associated with Hamas.