15:39 GMT +3 hours30 May 2016
Live
French President Francois Hollande (R) greets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef upon his arrival for their talks on March 4, 2016 at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris

Honor for Sale? The French Lash Out at Hollande for Awarding Saudi Prince

© AFP 2016/ Stephane De Sakutin
Europe
Get short URL
0348500

The French have lashed out at their president for “discrediting” and “devaluating” their highest honor, the Legion d'Honneur, after it was “quietly” awarded to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif during his visit to Paris, just months after his country executed 47 people on New Year's Day.

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.

French President Francois Hollande (2nd L) shakes hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as he escorts him following their talks on March 4, 2016 at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris
© AFP 2016/ STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN
French President Francois Hollande (2nd L) shakes hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as he escorts him following their talks on March 4, 2016 at the Elysee Presidential Palace in 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.

​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.

​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.

​​​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.

​​​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").

Legion of Honour
© Photo: Wikipedia/M. Blach
Legion of Honour
Related:
Germany Backtracks on Condemnation of Saudi Executions, Agrees to Sell Arms
Watchdogs Condemn Hammond for 'Condoning' Saudi Mass Executions
Leaked Memo Proves Saudis Knew Executions Would Spark Unrest
State Department Was Warned of Saudi Executions
Tags:
decoration, executions, award, Legion of Honour, Mohammed bin Naif, Francois Hollande, Saudi Arabia, France
Top stories