The French president has been accused of devaluing its highest national honor after the Legion of Honour was quietly awarded to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia on a visit to Paris.
The nation’s most prestigious award went to the heir to the Saudi throne, Prince Mohammed bin Naif on Friday, just several months after the kingdom executed 47 people, including Shia religious leader Nimr al-Nimr, by beheading and shooting by firing squad.
France makes the legion d'honneur worthlesshttps://t.co/Be2nYkOBKg— Jane Grover (@JaneGrover1) 5 марта 2016 г.
Just two months ago the French government was among the most vocal outside the Middle East in its condemnation of Saudi mass executions.
The French media noted that the Crown Prince’s visit to the Elysee Palace took place on the same very day when President Hollande held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about on the refugee crisis.
Wow — Crown Prince Nayef of Saudi Arabia *secretly* awarded with the medal of the Legion of Honor by Hollande. https://t.co/Q1tDyAEtIQ— Katerina Alexandridi (@kalexandridi) 6 марта 2016 г.
But while Merkel’s trip was widely covered by the Elysee social media team, any reference or evidence of the Saudi delegation was “conspicuously absent”.
While Saudi news agency SPA hailed the honor as “recognition for the prince’s great efforts in the region and world for combating extremism and terrorism”, the French have condemned the move.
So even the Legion d'Honneur is up for sale these days? https://t.co/88WwG3IsZW— Ghassan Dahhan (@GhassanDahhan) 6 марта 2016 г.
Twitter users called it a “day of shame for France”, lamenting that the decoration “makes the legion d’honneur worthless” and wondering whether the country’s top award is now available for sale.
"Holland gives the Legion of Honour to Saudi Crown Prince… for his action against terrorism: Putin laughs!" tweeted another user.
Hollande remet la Légion d'honneur au prince héritier saoudien…pour son action contre le terrorisme: Poutine se marre!— Gilbert Collard (@GilbertCollard) 6 марта 2016 г.
The Legion of Honour was founded by Napoleon in 1802, and is regarded as among the first and most prestigious modern orders of merit in the world. The order's motto is "Honneur et Patrie" ("Honour and Fatherland").