Benzema sues French interior minister for defamation

Benzema sues French interior minister for defamation
Fecha de publicación: 
17 January 2024
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After the Ballon d'Or winner posted on his social media that he was "sending all his prayers to the inhabitants of Gaza", French Minister Gérald Darmanin accused the French international of having "notorious links" to the "Muslim Brotherhood". 

Lawyers for Karim Benzema, the French footballer now with Saudi club Al-Ittihad and formerly with Real Madrid, with whom he won the Ballon d'Or and numerous titles, filed a defamation suit against French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin on Tuesday. According to the complaint seen by AFP, Darmanin accused him of having "notorious" links with the Muslim Brotherhood. Referring to the Ballon d'Or, the French official admitted that "Karim Benzema has notorious links, as we all know, with the Muslim Brotherhood," according to a statement he made on Cnews on 16 October.

It all began when Darmanin reacted to a post on the French footballer's account in which he said he "sends all his prayers to the inhabitants of Gaza, once again victims of unjust bombardments which spare neither women nor children"

The footballer's lawyer quickly refuted the minister's accusations. "This is false! Karim Benzema has never had the slightest link with this organisation." His lawyer, Hugues Vigier, said in a statement.

Because of his fame, the player feels 'instrumentalised'.GETTY IMAGES

Because of his fame, the player feels 'instrumentalised'.GETTY IMAGES


"The striker's lawyer, who at the time hinted at the possibility of filing a complaint, which he did last Tuesday, argued that "praying for civilians under bombs on 15 October obviously does not constitute 'propaganda for Hamas' or acts of collaboration".

Benzema's attorney denounced the "unacceptable exploitation of Karim Benzema and the symbolism he has become". The complaint states: "The minister's statements undermine his honour and reputation. It has been submitted to the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), the only body with the power to prosecute and judge members of the government for crimes committed in the exercise of their functions.

It is clear that Benzema is a figure of particular relevance in view of his prominence in the media. This aspect is at the forefront of the footballer's and his lawyer's complaint.

Benzema affirms that he has "never had the slightest link with the Muslim Brotherhood". "I see to what extent I am being used as an instrument in political games because of my fame, which is even more scandalous in view of the dramatic events since 7 October, which deserve something other than these statements," he noted

AFP spoke to Darmanin and his team last October. They confirmed that the French minister's entourage believes that "for several years now, we have been observing a slow drift in Karim Benzema's positions towards a strict, rigorous Islam".

In support of this view, they point to gestures such as his refusal to sing the national anthem when playing for France or, according to Darmanin's team, his "proselytism on social media about Muslim worship, such as fasting, prayer, pilgrimage to Mecca" or his "support for the publication of Russian MMA fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov, a real call to hatred after the publication of a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad in the French press".

The Muslim Brotherhood is a religious and political group. It practices the Sunni branch of Islam. It is characterised by its desire to establish Sharia, or Islamic law, based on the Koran. They see Islam not only as a religion but also as a way of life and advocate the use of the holy book to "lay the foundations of families, communities and even countries".

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