Benzema files defamation suit against France’s interior minister over Muslim Brotherhood allegations
PARIS (AP) — Karim Benzema has filed a defamation lawsuit against France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who accused the soccer star of having links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Darmanin said in October that Benzema had “a notorious link” to the Brotherhood — a pan-Arab Islamist group which came to power in Egypt following elections a year after the 2011 popular uprising — because Benzema posted a message of support online for the people of Gaza early into the Israel-Hamas war.
In his complaint, which was filed on Monday with the Court of Justice of the Republic, Benzema firmly denied any links with the Muslim Brotherhood or any member of the organisation. The CJR is a special court for cases targeting government ministers.
“(Despite this) the Interior Minister does not hesitate to drag my name through the mud for non-existent links with this organisation,” Benzema said in his complaint, adding that he had been portrayed as being “close to the enemy or directly an enemy” and that it was a breach of his honor.
Benzema’s lawyer Hugues Vigier told RTL radio on Tuesday that Benzema — who is muslim and now plays in the Saudi Arabian league for Al-Ittihad — was a victim of “political exploitation” with considerable consequences to his family.
The 36-year-old Benzema scored 37 goals in 97 appearances for France. He missed the 2022 World Cup because of injury, having won the coveted men’s Ballon d’Or trophy that year.
Benzema won the Champions League five times with Real Madrid and scored 354 goals for the Spanish club, putting him second all-time behind Cristiano Ronaldo (450).