Mexican-born actress Salma Hayek has joined the ranks of Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro and Robert Redford in being awarded a French knighthood. The announcement that Hayek will be the recipient of the Legion d'Honneur has been met with a mixed response by the French public, according to Bbc News.
Hayek's husband, Francois-Henri Pinault is an associate of the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy. According to the report, some readers of the French newspaper L'Express disagree with the decision to award the Puss in Boots actress the award, with one reader suggesting that the knighthood could be more appropriately given to French soldiers who have sacrificed their lives to serve in Afghanistan. As well as her acting (she is perhaps best known for her Academy Award-nominated performance in Frida), Hayek is also known for her humanitarian work with Unicef in Sierra Leone and for campaigning to fight violence against women.
The Legion d'Honneur was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 and is awarded for 'eminent merit' in both civilian and military life. The orders are currently given out by the country's president, Mr Sarkozy. When the last list was announced by Sarkozy, the former French senator Henri Torre turned down the honour, stating "We have appointed too many people who did not deserve to be nominated... we ridiculed the highest honour by naming anyone." In the UK, the actress Helena Bonham-carter was awarded a Cbe in the Queen's New Year's Honours List.