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France moves to strip Assad of his Legion d'Honneur

AFP  |  Paris 

The plans to strip Syrian of his Legion d'Honneur, France's most prestigious award, days after participating in airstrikes against in

"The Elysee confirms that a disciplinary procedure for withdrawing the Legion d'Honneur (Legion of Honour) is underway," Macron's office said yesterday.

Assad was decorated with the Legion's highest rank of Grand Croix (Great Cross) by former in 2001, shortly after taking power following the death of his father

Only a French president, who by tradition is the top-ranking Legion member, can decide to withdraw the distinction from a foreigner.

About 3,000 people are granted the distinction each year, including 400 foreigners recognised for their "services rendered to France" or for defending human rights, press freedom or other causes, according to the Legion's website.

Assad has been accused of a series of on his own people during the brutal civil war which has torn apart since 2011.

He has become a pariah for Western powers while maintaining the support of Russian Vladimir Putin, whose intervention in the conflict gave Assad the upper hand against rebel opposition groups.

Putin himself is also a recipient of the Legion's Grand Croix, decorated by Chirac in 2006.

It is not the first time President has stripped a foreigner of France's highest honour, having moved to withdraw the award from Hollywood mogul after a series of accusations of sexual harassment and rape.

Macron had already signaled he planned to crack down on Legion d'Honneur handouts, surprising many in July by awarding just 101 to mark instead of the customary 500-600.

Former president drew critics' ire by granting the honour to Saudi Arabia's previous in 2016 despite a sharp increase in death sentences by Saudi courts, a punishment has long deemed inhumane.

In 2010, made it easier to take back the award, created by Napoleon, from foreigners who have committed "dishonourable acts".

lost his after the seven-time winner was found to have used performance-enhancing drugs, and John Galliano's was pulled in the wake of an alcohol-fuelled volley of anti-Semitic slurs.

French citizens are automatically stripped of the if convicted of crimes leading to prison sentences of at least one year.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, April 17 2018. 16:05 IST