Karim Benzema’s lawyer has hit back at France’s interior minister after he accused the French football star of links to the Muslim Brotherhood group.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin made the accusations after the reigning Ballon d’Or winner and former Real Madrid forward posted a message on social media about the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.
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“All our prayers are for the inhabitants of Gaza who are once again victims of these unjust bombings which spare no women or children,” Benzema, who plays for Saudi team Al Ittihad, wrote on X.
Darmanin, speaking on the CNews Channel, alleged that Benzema “has a notorious link with the Muslim Brotherhood”.
“This is false! Karim Benzema has never had the slightest relationship with this organisation,” Benzema’s layer Hugues Vigier said in a statement.
He added that Benzema was expressing “natural compassion” with “what many today describe as war crimes being committed in Gaza, but which does not detract from the horror of the terrorist acts of October 7, something not open to discussion”.
The lawyer added that he was planning to file a complaint against Darmanin for his comments.
“We are once again witnessing an intolerable exploitation of Karim Benzema and the ‘symbolic figure’ that we like to make him,” Vigier said.
Following Darmanin’s comments, a lawmaker asked for Benzema to be stripped of his Ballon d’Or award and for his French citizenship to be revoked.
Valerie Boyer, a Senator for Bouches-du-Rhone, said in a press release that she requests “the forfeiture of Karim Benzema’s [French] nationality” if Darmanin’s claims are verified.
“A sanction, initially symbolic, would be to withdraw his Ballon d’Or. Finally, we must request forfeiture of nationality,” Boyer said.
“We cannot accept that a French dual national, internationally known, can dishonour and even betray our country in this way.”
Darmanin, 41, has carved out a reputation as a hardliner in the mould of his political mentor ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy and makes no secret of his own presidential ambitions.
Benzema is not the only Muslim football star to enter the debate, with Liverpool and Egypt player Mohamed Salah calling for humanitarian aid to be allowed into Gaza and an end to “massacres”.
Benzema, 35, who was born in France to parents of Algerian origin, has been one of the standout French stars of the last decade.
He joined the Saudi club on a hugely lucrative three-year deal earlier this year after 14 seasons with Real Madrid where he lifted five Champions Leagues, four La Liga titles and three Copa del Rey titles.
But after a stellar 2021-22 season when he led Real to Champions League glory and was rewarded with the Ballon d’Or for the world’s best player, he was troubled by injuries that ruled him out of France’s World Cup campaign in Qatar last year.
Source: News Agencies