Salma Hayek is set to become a Knight of the Legion of Honour for her services to the French Republic, it was announced on Tuesday (January 3, 2011). According to the UK's Daily Telegraph, the actress, 45, will have the honour bestowed on her by President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace in a few weeks' time.
Hayek, who is currently promoting the well-received animated flick 'Puss In Boots', is married to the billionaire businessman Francois-Henri Pinault - who happens to be a close friend of Mr Sarkozy. Her father-in-law, also named Francois Pinault, will be made a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour in the same list. Reacting to the list of recipients, political magazine Marianne ran with the headline, "Last distribution of the gongs before leaving!", suggesting Sarkozy crowning Hayek a Knight was merely "another occasion to have fun" before he is defeated in the next elections. Numerous angry French people have been taking to social networks and to the L'Express website to air their views, with one suggesting Bonaparte would be "turning in his grave". The magazine itself asked, "Why not Tintin and Milou?" - a reference to the cartoon boy journalist and his faithful dog.
The reaction echoes similar criticism of UK Prime Minister David Cameron - a friend of Sarkozy - who recently rewarded Tory donor Gerald Ronson despite him being jailed for his part in the Guinness share-trading scandal. Though some movie stars are previous recipients of the Legion of Honour, they have tended to be global superstars such as Robert De Niro and CLINT EASTWOOD.