April 19, 2024

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Football Star Benzema Files Lawsuit Against French Interior Minister for Defamation

Karim Benzema playing for Al Ittihad in the FIFA Club World Cup. Pic: AP

According to local media, French footballer Karim Benzema has filed a defamation lawsuit against France’s interior minister for accusing him of links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Gérald Darmanin stated in October that Mr. Benzema “has a notorious link” with the Sunni Muslim Islamist group.

Mr. Benzema’s lawyer stated that the comment “undermines” his honor and reputation.

The Muslim Brotherhood is outlawed in several countries, including Egypt, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

Mr Darmanin’s comment in October came after the player tweeted his support for the people of Gaza, describing them as “victims again of unjust bombardments which spare neither women nor children”.

Noting his failure to express sympathy for the estimated 1,300 Israeli victims killed by Hamas on October 7, Mr Darmanin stated that the former French striker was “well-known for his links with the Muslim Brotherhood”.

“We are fighting the hydra that is the Muslim Brotherhood, because it creates an atmosphere of jihadism,” the politician told conservative TV channel CNews.

Karim Benzema, 36, a Muslim who plays in Saudi Arabia, quickly denied the allegations and threatened to sue the minister for slander.

In his 92-page complaint, widely reported in French media on Tuesday, he states that he “has never had the slightest link with the Muslim Brotherhood organization, nor to (his) knowledge with anyone who claims to be a member of it.”

The former Real Madrid star went on to say: “I am aware of the extent to which, because of my notoriety, I am being used in political games, which are all the more scandalous given that the dramatic events since October 7 deserve something quite different from this type of statement.”

His lawyer, Hugues Vigier, told French outlet RTL that the footballer is the victim of “political exploitation” and accused the interior minister of “sowing division in France”.

Mr. Darmanin has yet to comment on the complaint.

He has previously targeted Karim Benzema for various reasons, including his refusal to sing the French national anthem and “proselytizing on social networks.”

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt approximately 80 years ago. It has served as the foundation for many contemporary Islamist organizations, including Hamas.

Primarily an ideological movement with no formal structure, it is prohibited in many countries but not in the majority of the European Union.

The group’s influence in Europe is primarily seen through front organizations that advocate for Islamic causes such as women’s right to wear head coverings.

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