Gerald Darmanin, the French Interior Minister, accused Karim Benzema of having alleged connections with the Muslim Brotherhood due to the footballer’s expression of support for Palestinian victims.
Benzema said on X “All our prayers for the inhabitants of Gaza who are once again victims of these unjust bombings which spare no women or children.”
In the interview with CNews Network, Darmanin said: “Mister Karim Benzema has notorious ties, as we all know, with the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Darmanin’s team has sought to clarify his remarks, stating, “In recent years, we have observed a shift in Benzema’s positions towards a stricter form of Islam, in line with the Brotherhood’s ideology, which aims to promote Islamic values in various aspects of society, including sports,” as conveyed to RMC Sport.
These claims by Darmanin’s associates are based on reportedly several factors, including Benzema’s refusal to sing the French national anthem, a photograph with the Imam of Meaux, his support for Russian MMA fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov, and his public expressions related to religious conversion on social media.
Nadine Morano, another French politician, also labeled the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner as a “agent of Hamas propaganda,” shortly after he expressed his condolences to the people of Gaza.
Valérie Boyer, a French senator and fellow member of Les Republicains like Morano, has called for Karim Benzema’s French nationality to be revoked, as well as his prestigious Ballon d’Or if Gerald Darmanin’s accusations are substantiated.
Morano is widely known in France for her strong far-right viewpoints, frequently criticizing Islam. In 2016, former president Nicolas Sarkozy excluded her from the party’s regional election list following her openly Islamophobic remarks on television.
During an appearance on French TV, she stated, “France is a nation with Judeo-Christian roots, primarily of white race, and it is drawing in immigrants. I wish for France to preserve its identity. I don’t want France to become Muslim”
Benzema’s tweet garnered positive feedback from Palestinian sympathizers and a significant number of his Arab world followers who thanked him for speaking up.
Benzema’s tweet comes in the context of the criticism and backlash faced by pro-Palestinian football players for voicing their opinions.