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Shakira honored with France's arts and letters medal

January 31, 2012 |  6:22 pm

Shakira receives her Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from Frederic Mitterrand

Singer Shakira has been honored by France as a Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, becoming the first Colombian to receive the honor.

Minister of Culture Frédéric Mitterrand presented the medal to Shakira, who in addition to her music — for which she was recognized — is known for her philanthropic work on behalf of children.

"I believe that every child should have the right to follow their dreams and get an education," she says on her website. "Growing up in Colombia, I saw that education can be a child's way out of poverty and a way to fulfill his or her potential. It is a basic right, but too often poor children are shut out."

She goes on to note the number of children worldwide who don't go to primary and secondary school, and calls on governments to, among other things, prioritize education funding. On a more practical level, in recent years she's gotten five schools built back home.

Note that this honor is different from the Chevalier Legion d'Honneur, a knighthood recently bestowed upon actress Salma Hayek amid whispers that she'd gone on the list only because her billionaire husband Francois-Henri Pinault is a close friend of President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres recognizes significant contributions to the arts and literature and has previously gone to folks including Clint Eastwood, George Clooney and T.S. Eliot. The Chevalier Legion d'Honneur recognizes significant service to the nation of France and sprang from the mind of Napoleon Bonaparte.

"Hips Don't Lie" singer Shakira was in Cannes to open Saturday's NRJ Music Awards with her song "Je L'Aime a Mourir" — watch it below.



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— Christie D'Zurilla

Photo: French culture minister Frederic Mitterrand pins the Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres on Shakira in Cannes, France, on Saturday. Credit: Lionel Cironneau / Associated Press