French minister Darmanin spars with footballer Karim Benzema in Gaza row

By Hugh Schofield

BBC News, París

French football’s “bad boy” Karim Benzema is threatening to go to court after Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin accused him of having links with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The minister was reacting to remarks made by Benzema on X, formerly Twitter, in which he offered prayers to the people of Gaza as “victims again of unjust bombardments which spare neither women nor children”.

Noting his failure to express similar sympathy for the estimated 1,400 Israeli victims of Hamas, Mr Darmanin said the former French striker was “well-known for his links with the Muslim Brotherhood”.

“We are fighting the hydra that is the Muslim Brotherhood, because it creates an atmosphere of jihadism,” he told right-wing news channel CNews.

The footballer, who now lives in Saudi Arabia and plays in the Saudi Pro League, authorised his Paris lawyer to issue a categorical denial – and to threaten legal action against Mr Darmanin for slander.

“Karim Benzema has never had the least relationship with this organisation,” said Hugues Vigier.

“Praying for a civilian population living under bombs… is neither propaganda for Hamas, nor complicity in terrorism, nor an act of collaboration.

“It is natural compassion in the face of what many people qualify as war crimes… but which in no way detracts from the horror of the [Hamas] terrorist actions carried out on October 7,” he said.

He said Karim Benzema was also considering legal action against right-wing deputy Nadine Morano, who described him as an “element of propaganda for Hamas”.

Speaking subsequently on BFMTV, the interior minister refused to back down – saying he would only withdraw his comments if the footballer issued another tweet lamenting last Friday’s Islamist murder of a schoolteacher in Arras.

“The [Muslim] Brotherhood is insidious. It uses all the means available in our society to get across its message of a strict Islam…. Not to see this is to be naive. Let’s stop being naive!”

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Categories: The Muslim Times

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