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France honors Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef with highest award

French President Francois Hollande has reportedly awarded Saudi Arabia's crown prince with the Legion d'Honneur. Opponents of the death penalty have criticized the move.

Saudi news agency SPA reported on Sunday that crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef met with Hollande and was awarded the Legion of Honor two days ago.

SPA said bin Nayef, who serves as Saudi Arabia's interior minister, received the award for his "efforts in the fight against terrorism and extremism."

French television channel France24 tweeted this message:

The honor was bestowed upon the Saudi prince as a "foreign individual, a common protocol practice," President Hollande's aide told news agency AFP on condition of anonymity.

There were no comments from the Elysee Palace.

Saudi Arabia is France's key ally in the Syria conflict and also a big customer of French arms.

The French government's move has been criticized by opponents of the death penalty, who were tweeting using the hashtag "#honte" or "shame" in French, on Sunday. Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth posted this message:

Saudi Arabia has executed 70 people so far in 2016. Earlier this year,

Riyadh beheaded Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr

with a sword on charges of "terrorism," which led to tensions with Iran.

mg/lw (AP, AFP)

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