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France wants to withdraw the Legion of Honor to El Asad

The Syrian leader received in 2001 the distinction granted "for the services rendered to France or to causes that it supports".

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France wants to withdraw the Legion of Honor to El Asad

What Republic gives sometimes can take it away. France has set in motion procedure to remove Legion of Honor, Maximum state decoration, Syrian president, Bachar El Asad, as reported on Monday a fountain of Elysee Palace.

Two days after military intervention of United States, France and United Kingdom against regime of El Asad, accused of a suspected attack with chemical weapons against civilians, presidency of Republic confirmed existence of "disciplinary procedure". French President Jacques Chirac decorated Syrian president in 2001. Emmanuel Macron, in his functions as head of state, is also a great master of Legion of Honor and can legally deprive him of decoration.

More information
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  • The EU avoids close support for attacks on Syrian regime

The Code of Legion of Honor, established by Napoleon Bonaparte, "rewards eminent merits acquired in service of nation, be it civilly, under arms."  Some 93,000 French are members of Legion of Honor. They can also receive foreigners who have distinguished mselves "for services rendered to France or to causes that it supports". The medal is not eternal, at least for living.

The Legion of Honor Code states that state can withdraw it from persons convicted of a crime or a prison sentence of at least one year. They may also be lost by those who have "committed acts or [have] had a behavior likely to be contrary to honor or detrimental to interests of France abroad or to causes that it supports in world." This would be legal basis for removing decoration from El Asad or film producer Harvey Weinstein, subject of a procedure initiated in autumn, following wave of accusations of sexual harassment. In 2014, cyclist Esatdounidense Lance Armstrong lost title after admitting that he had been doped during his sporting career.

The case of dead decorated is more complicated. The code does not specify wher it is possible to withdraw Legion of Honor. Not being able to defend a dead person from allegations against him, so far it has been interpreted that re was no such measure, even though his behaviour would have been unhonorable. Last February, a court rejected lawsuit of Jean Ocaña, son of exiled Republicans in France, to remove to him Francisco Franco Legion of Honor which it received in 1928, before occupying power.

Neir Franco nor Asad are unique cases: list of dictators and characters not recommended is long. Mussolini, Gaddafi and Ceausescu, among ors, also received high distinction.

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