Entertainment & Arts

Actress Salma Hayek gains French knighthood

Salma Hayek
Image caption Salma Hayek gained an Oscar nomination for playing artist Frida Kahlo

Film actress Salma Hayek has been awarded one of France's top honours by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mexican-born Hayek will become a Knight of the Legion d'Honneur at a ceremony in Paris later this year.

The 45-year-old's businessman husband, Francois-Henri Pinault, is an associate of Mr Sarkozy, while his father was also honoured in the New Year's list.

Some readers of French newspaper L'Express have said honours should be awarded to worthier recipients.

One reader said honours should go to French soldiers who have given their lives in Afghanistan.

Another said: "Why not give it to people who do good deeds?"

Hayek is also known for her humanitarian work on behalf of mothers in developing countries, and drawing attention to the issue of violence against women.

Former French Senator Henri Torre told Agence France Presse that he turned down a Knighthood in Sarkozy's last list ahead of the country's presidential elections.

"We have appointed too many people who did not deserve to be nominated... we ridiculed the highest honour by naming anyone," he added.

Hayek, currently starring in animated movie Puss In Boots, is not the only Hollywood star to have received the award.

Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro and Robert Redford have been decorated in previous years.

The inclusion of French singing duo Stone et Charden, who had a number of releases in the 1970s, was questioned by some readers of L'Express.

"What services have they made? A little song 40 years ago!" remarked one reader.

Another suggested it would be more appropriate for the singers to be given a French cultural honour.

The Legion d'Honneur was created by Napoleon Boneparte in 1802 and is given out for "eminent merit" in civilian and military life.

The order's current Grand Master is Nicolas Sarkozy.

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