French Muslim footballer Karim Benzema sues far-right politician for linking him to extremism: report

French Muslim footballer Karim Benzema sues far-right politician for linking him to extremism: report
French footballer Karim Benzema is reportedly suing far-right politician Damien Rieu for defamation for posting tweets associating the Real Madrid star with Islamic extremists.
2 min read
07 May, 2022
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema is reportedly suing Damien Rieu for defamation [Getty]

French footballer Karim Benzema is suing a far-right politician for associating the Real Madrid star with Islamic extremism, French media reported Thursday.

The 34-year-old striker is suing Damien Rieu, a member of French far-right party Reconquête, for defamation for two tweets Rieu posted in 2020, according to French daily Le Parisien.

In one of the tweets, Rieu posted a photo of Benzema with Nourdine Mamoune, an imam for the French town of Meaux, east of Paris.

"Interesting to discover @benzema visits Imam Nourdine Mamoune, [whose home] has just been raided," Rieu said on 23 October 2020.

Just hours before Rieu's tweet, Mamoune's home had been raided by French police, a few days after French schoolteacher Samuel Paty was executed by an Islamic State sympathiser. The police took no further action against Mamoune after the raids, Le Parisien reported.

A month later, Rieu posted a tweet with a photo of Benzema posing with his index finger raised - a gesture of faith for Muslims.

The photo of Benzema was posted along with three other photos of armed men - some of them members of the Islamic State -making the same gesture.

"I think @benzema wants to send us a message," Rieu's tweet read.

Rieu posted an image of his court summons to Twitter on Tuesday, saying: "Karim wants me to shut up... tell him I've won all my trials."

Far-right parties have increasingly become part of France's political mainstream. Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally party, came second in the French presidential elections, winning more than 40 percent of the votes.

France's centrist government has been accused of implementing Islamophobic policies.

Benzema, who was born in France and is of Algerian descent, has had his share of court troubles.

The striker was convicted last year for complicity in a bid to blackmail former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena with a sex tape. He has appealed the ruling.