France has made the Yemeni writer Ali Al-Muqri a knight of the French Order of Arts and Letters.
Al-Muqri recently received a letter from Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, the French minister of culture, telling him that he was among the honorees chosen as members of the order this year.
Al-Muqri has been living in France at the invitation of the Arab World Institute since 2015, after fleeing the war in his home country. He had lived in Sana’a, the capital, which is now controlled by the Houthi rebel movement. People close to Al-Muqri have warned him he risked being pursued by the Houthis if he returned to Yemen.
The Order of Arts and Letters, one of four “ministerial orders” in France, is awarded to people who have distinguished themselves through artistic or literary creation or by contributing to the influence of arts and letters in France and the world. It has three ranks: commander, officer, and knight (chevalier).
Al-Muqri said in a telephone interview with Al-Fanar Media that he had not been aware of his candidacy for this order and was surprised by the letter.