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Benzema threatened with citizenship loss over Gaza support

Benzema threatened with loss of citizenship, accused of Muslim Brotherhood membership, over Gaza support
3 min read
After Karim Benzema tweeted in solidarity with Gaza, a senator said his French citizenship should be withdrawn and interior minister Darmanin said he was linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Darmanin accused Benzema of ties to the Muslim Brotherhood after the footballer expressed solidarity with victims of Israel's bombardment of Gaza [Khalid Alhaj/MB Media/Getty]

Karim Benzema has been threatened with the removal of his French citizenship over statements he made in support of Gaza.

The football superstar's lawyer said that he would be taking legal action against French interior minister Gerald Darmanin after he accused the French football star of links to the Muslim Brotherhood 

Darmanin made the accusations after the reigning Ballon d'Or winner and former Real Madrid forward posted a message on social media about Israel's crushing bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

"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 wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Israel has been relentlessly and indiscriminately bombing the Gaza Strip since 7 October, the day Palestinian group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israeli territory. At least 3,700 Palestinians have been killed, mostly women and children.

Some 1,400 Israelis have been killed, and about 200 hostages seized by Hamas.

Darmanin, speaking on the CNews Channel, alleged that Benzema "has a link – as everyone knows – with the Muslim Brotherhood", a Sunni Muslim Islamist group with origins in Egypt.

"This is false! Karim Benzema has never had the slightest relationship with this organisation," Benzema's lawyer Hugues Vigier said in a statement.

He said 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 7 October, something not open to discussion".

The lawyer added that he was planning to file a complaint against Darmanin for his comments.

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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 Saudi club Al-Ittihad on a hugely lucrative three-year deal this year after 14 seasons with Real Madrid where he lifted five Champions Leagues, four La Liga titles and three Copas del Rey.

A French senator has even suggested that Benzema be stripped of his French citizenship after Darmanin's claim.

"If the minister’s comments are true, we have to consider sanctions against Karim Benzema," Valerie Boyer, vice-president of the conservative Les Republicains party reportedly said on X – though the tweet appears to have been deleted.

Boyer suggested "deprivation of his nationality" as a possible punishment for Benzema.

France has been cracking down on expressions of solidarity with Palestine and Palestinians, with Darmanin calling last week on all French prefects to ban pro-Palestine protests.

Amnesty International has condemned that call, saying it "constitutes a serious and disproportionate attack on the right to demonstrate".