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 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) March 5, 2016
— Carmen Renieri (@RenieriArts) March 5, 2016
Just two months ago the French government was among the most vocal outside the Middle East in its condemnation of Saudi mass executions.
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.
— Sulochana Peiris (@Sulo_Peiris) March 5, 2016
— SPQR (@SPQR_XXI) March 6, 2016
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.
Hollande lost the plot?? https://t.co/TjTPiejxj9
— Paul Curtis (@PaulCurtissss) March 6, 2016
“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) March 6, 2016
— True Love Syria (@Heresay1) March 6, 2016
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”).