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General

France awards Legion of Honour to victims and "heroes" of terrorism

media A poster portrays the faces of slain cartoonists: Cabu, Charb, Honoré, Tignous et Wolinski, killed during a deadly rampage on January 11 2015 Christophe Carmarans / RFI

Victims of last year's terror attacks in January have been awarded the Légion d'honneur, France's highest honour, together with five people who played a pivotal role during the three day siege. Meanwhile, four men who helped thwart a terrorist attack on a French train back in August have also been honoured for their heroism.

It's France's highest decoration and the most famous in the world. The Légion d’Honneur this year took on a rather political message, in esteeming brave men and women who either lost their lives to terrorism or tried to fight against it.

Out of the 600 recipients, twenty at least were involved in last year's fatal attacks in January and in a Thalys train attack later in August.

That's just under 5%, a small sum, but the impact is big. With these awards, the government is trying to illustrate that in the face of terrorism good will always win out.

The Légion d'Honneur recognizes the most deserving members of society, and they include fifteen of the seventeen victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

Among them are four cartoonists from the satirical newspaper: Charb, Cabu, Honoré and Tignous, together with columnist Elsa Cayat and corrector Mustapha Ourrad; all of them were killed on January 7 when Islamist gunmen stormed their offices.

But cartoonist Georges Wolinski, and columnist Bernard Maris -who were also killed- were not knighted, because they're already knights. Both men picked up the prestigious award when they were still alive in 2005 and 2014 respectively.

The Légion d'Honneur medal is not usually awarded posthumously. And another exception to the rule this year has been to award non-French citizens.

Three young American tourists and a Briton who overpowered a gunman on a packed Thalys train in August also received France’s highest decoration. This, thanks to a new amendment enabling the country to honour foreigners.

One person however who may feel left out of the honours, is the Malian Lassana Bathily, who helped hide hostages at a kosher super market during January's deadly siege. He was awarded French citizenship shortly after his heroic feat. No doubt the French thought he'd been awarded enough.

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