Actress Salma Hayek will soon become a Chevalier – or Knight - of the Legion of Honor for her services to France, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, announced earlier this week
The top French honor, which was first established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 to honor extraordinary military and civilian conduct, is now granted to those who have provided outstanding service to the French republic.
Many French citizens are displeased with Sarkozy’s choice to knight the Mexican-American actress, who is married to French billionaire and personal friend of President Sarkozy, Francois-Henri Pinault.
Henri Torre, the 78-year-old member of Sarkozy's ruling UMP party and former minister turned down the Legion of Honor award in light of the Hayek decision, saying: “Too many people were nominated who do not deserve to be honored,” Mail Online reported. Torre added that the French awards have “lost their value.”
The political magazine Marianne believes Sarkozy has an ulterior motive to knighting Hayek, as he is up for re-election in the spring.
“Last distribution of the gongs before leaving!” read a recent headline from the magazine.
Others took to posting on the L’Express website, saying Napoleon Bonaparte would be “turning in his grave.”
Other Hollywood celebrities like Clint Eastwood and Robert De Niro have been awarded the Legion of Honor gongs in the past, but the French honor is typically given to seasoned actors that have garnished an international appeal over the years.
Hayek’s father-in-law, wealthy French businessman Francois Pinault, will also be honored.