January 17 – French football icon Karim Benzema has filed a defamation lawsuit against the country’s interior minister for accusing him last year of having “notorious” links with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Gerald Darmanin, a staunch right-winger with apparent designs on the French presidency, criticised Benzema after the former France striker and 2022 Ballon d’Or winner posted on X (formerly Twitter) in mid-October in support of the inhabitants of Gaza, who, he claimed, were victims of “unjust bombardments” carried out by Israel in retaliation for the bloody Hamas attack of October 7.
Darmanin reacted to Benzema’s post by alleging that the player “has a notorious link with the Muslim Britherhood”, a Sunni Muslim Islamist group.
Benzema’s 92-page complaint, lodged by lawyer Hugues Vigier and seen by AFP, says these remarks “undermine” the player’s honour and reputation and claims Darmanin is guilty of “political exploitation”.
In his complaint, Benzema, who is now at Saudi club Al-Ittihad after a stellar career and is a Muslim, says he “has never had the slightest link with the Muslim Brotherhood organisation, nor to (his) knowledge with anyone who claims to be a member of it.”
He added: “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.”
Darmanin has previously criticised Benzema for other reasons, including his refusal to sing the French national anthem before international matches.
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