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French senator asks footballer Karim Benzema to lose his citizenship following Muslim Brotherhood demand – POLITICO

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A French senator on Wednesday called for the stripping of Karim Benzema’s French nationality after Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin suggested the football star was linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist party considered a terrorist group in several Middle Eastern countries.

“If the minister’s words are true, sanctions will have to be considered against Karim Benzema,” said Valérie Boyer, vice-president of the conservative Les Républicains party, in a press release on X.

Boyer said the withdrawal of Benzema’s Ballon d’Or – the highest individual award a professional footballer can receive, which Benzema won in 2022 – could be a “first symbolic sanction”, and suggested “the deprivation of his nationality” as a second punitive measure against the Franco-Algerian player.

“We cannot accept that a world-famous French dual national could dishonor and even betray our country,” Boyer’s statement read.

The French senator’s reaction came after Darmanin claimed on Tuesday that Benzema had links to the Muslim Brotherhood, in an interview with conservative French television channel CNews, without providing evidence to support his claims.

“Mr. Benzema is notoriously linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, we all know that,” declared the French minister, a hard-liner on issues of security and secularism.

This information was quickly denied by Benzema’s lawyer, Hugues Vigier.

“It’s false! Karim Benzema has never had any relationship with this organization,” Vigier told French daily Le Parisien on Wednesday evening, adding that his team was considering taking legal action against the French minister.

An Islamist party that came to power in Egypt after the Arab Spring until its ouster in a military coup in 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood receives funding from Qatar and is considered a terrorist group in several Middle Eastern countries, including including Doha’s enemies, Saudi Arabia. and the United Arab Emirates.

A devout Muslim who observes fasting during Ramadan and does not hesitate to expose his faith on social networks, Benzema now lives in Saudi Arabia since his transfer from Real Madrid to Al-Ittihad – in exchange for an annual salary of 200 million euros – last summer. .

At the time, Benzema explained that his religion played a role in the decision.

“It’s important to be in a Muslim country where I already feel that people love me, it will give me a new life,” he says. “I’m a believer, so it’s important to me.”

The display of religious symbols in the public domain is a sensitive subject in France, where Church and State have been separated by law since 1905.

This extends to sport: earlier this year, the French Football Federation (FFF) refused to briefly interrupt matches to allow Muslim players to break their fast – a practice recently implemented in English football leagues and Dutch – claiming that this would violate the principle of secularism. .

“The idea is that there is a time for everything: a time to play sport, a time to practice your religion,” Eric Borghini, president of the federal referees commission, told Agence France-Presse. of the FFF.

Asked by French radio RMC to clarify Darmanin’s remarks, the minister’s office declared having observed a “slow drift in Karim Benzema’s positions towards a harsh and rigorous Islam, typical of the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood which consists of disseminating Islamic norms in different areas of society. society, particularly in sport” – which included “proselytizing the Muslim faith” on social media.

While acknowledging that these observations “did not constitute (grounds for) legal action,” the firm argued that they “constituted a particularly vague signal from an athlete with such a large following.”



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