French far-right politician joins criticism of footballer Benzema over pro-Palestine post

Paris, Oct 20 (EFE).- French far-right politician Marine Le Pen on Friday accused footballer Karim Benzema of supporting radical Islam, joining a debate recently stroked by the country’s interior minister Gerald Darmanin.

Darmanin accused Benzema, the holder of football’s most prestigious individual award, the Ballon d’Or, of being linked with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood after he posted a message on social media about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

“Our prayers go out to the people of Gaza, who are once again victims of this unjust bombing, which spares no women or children,” the former Real Madrid forward, who currently plays for Saudi Club Al-Ittihad, wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on Oct.15.

After the post, Darmanin accused the French international of joining a propaganda campaign used by the Egypt-based Sunni Muslim Islamist group, which is banned by Cairo.

The minister also accused Benzema of being selective in his condemnation, saying that he did not post a similar message after Hamas attacked inside Israel on Oct. 7.

In an interview with Cnews on Thursday, the minister reiterated the allegation, accusing Benzema of maintaining “notorious links” with the Muslim Brotherhood without providing concrete evidence.

Benzema’s lawyer, Hugues Vigier, denied the player’s ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.

In an interview on Friday with the RMC radio station, Le Pen said although she did not have precise information about the minister’s allegation against Benzema, the player’s sympathy for radical Islamism was clear to her.

She, however, found a “contradiction” in the minister’s attitude, as he never called for the ban of the Muslim Brotherhood despite criticizing Benzema for his alleged ties with the group.

Pen, who lost two presidential elections in France in 2017 and 2022, said the minister’s criticism of Benzema was a diversion at a time when France was facing “serious problems” such as the increase in fundamentalism and the risk of attacks.

Since the war began after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct.7, more than 1,400 people have died in Israel, while intense Israeli bombing of the enclave has claimed the lives of some 3,800 people. EFE


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