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    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 2017/ Stephane De Sakutin
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    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 2017/ 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

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    Tags:
    decoration, executions, award, Legion of Honour, Mohammed bin Naif, Francois Hollande, Saudi Arabia, France
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