Karim Benzema launched a defamation lawsuit on Tuesday against French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who claimed last year that the former Real Madrid star had “notorious” ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Darmanin, a tough-talking right-winger vying for the French presidency, chastised Benzema after the former France striker and 2022 Ballon d’Or winner posted on X (formerly Twitter) in mid-October in support of Gaza residents, claiming they were victims of “unjust bombardments” carried out by Israel in retaliation for the bloody Hamas attack on October 7.
Darmanin responded to Benzema’s article by claiming that the player “has a notorious link with the Muslim Brotherhood,” a Sunni Muslim Islamist organization with its roots in Egypt.
Benzema’s case, filed by lawyer Hugues Vigier and obtained by AFP, claims that these insults “undermine” the player’s integrity and character.
In his lawsuit, Benzema, who plays for Saudi club Al-Ittihad and is Muslim, alleges 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.”
He 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.”
Darmanin said in October that he had “nothing against” Benzema, but that it was “astonishing” that the player had not tweeted in support of the Israelis slain in the Hamas assault, or the French teacher stabbed to death earlier this month by an Islamist former student.
“I publicly asked him to tweet for that teacher who died for nothing as a result of Islamist terrorism, and he didn’t,” the minister later said during a visit to Abu Dhabi.
Darmanin also mentioned Benzema’s unwillingness to sing the national anthem while playing for France, as well as his “proselytising on social networks”.
The case has been filed with the Cour de Justice, the only French court authorized to try government officials for crimes committed while doing their jobs.