French football forward Karim Benzema has taken legal action, filing a defamation lawsuit against French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin. The minister had, in the past year, asserted that the former Real Madrid star had “notorious” connections with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Darmanin, a prominent right-wing figure eyeing the French presidency, criticised Karim Benzema after the former France striker and 2022 Ballon d’Or winner expressed support for the residents of Gaza in mid-October. Benzema stated that they were victims of unjust bombardments by Israel in response to the Hamas attack on October 7.
In response to Benzema’s social media post, Darmanin accused the player of having a notorious link with the Muslim Brotherhood, a group with origins in Egypt. The defamation complaint, filed by Benzema’s lawyer Hugues Vigier and seen by the AFP, contends that Darmanin’s remarks “undermine” the player’s honour and reputation.
Benzema, who is currently playing for Saudi club Al-Ittihad and is a Muslim himself, stated in his complaint that he has never had any association with the Muslim Brotherhood or with anyone claiming membership in the organisation. He expressed awareness of being used in political games due to his notoriety, particularly in light of the significant events since October 7.
In October, Darmanin mentioned that he had nothing against Benzema but found it “astonishing” that the footballer did not tweet in support of the Israelis killed in the Hamas attack or the French teacher killed by a former pupil earlier that month.
The complaint, now with the Cour de justice, the only French court authorised to prosecute government members for offences committed during their duties, seeks redress for the alleged damage to Benzema’s reputation.