French women’s rights champion Simone Veil given coveted burial place in Pantheon

French women's rights champion Simone Veil given coveted burial place in Pantheon
Photo: AFP
French Holocaust survivor and women's rights icon Simone Veil will be buried in the Pantheon mausoleum alongside many other great French figures, the French president announced on Wednesday during a service in homage to "France's most admired woman".

Despite thousands signing a petition demanding Veil be buried in the famous Pantheon monument, Veil's family had indicated that she would be buried at Montparnasse cemetery alongside her husband, who died in 2013.

But during the national homage to Veil at the Invalides in Paris on Wednesday President Emmanuel Macron announced that both Veil and her husband Antoine will be interred in the Pantheon.

“Simone Veil will rest alongside her husband at the Pantheon,” said Macron.

The president said he had decided to honour her with a place in the Pantheon to show “the immense gratitude of the French people to one of its most loved children.”

Located in Paris, the Pantheon is reserved solely for the remains of great French figures, although the vast majority are men, including Voltaire, Victor Hugo and Emile Zola.

Until now, only four women have been interred there: scientist Sophie Berthelot – wife of French chemist and politician Marcellin Berthelot, scientist Marie Curie, and two resistance fighters Genevieve de Gaulle-Anthonioz and Germaine Tillion.

Two petitions on had urged the French government to bestow the rare honour on Veil, with one of the letters saying she “deserves the Pantheon”.

“Simone Veil is certainly the most deserving woman to be featured at the Pantheon,” said the other.
Both gathered tens of thousands of signatures in just a matter of days.
Veil, an Auschwitz survivor, became a towering figure in French politics after pushing to legalise abortion in the face of fierce opposition. She died on June 30 at the age of 89.
Veil was deported to Auschwitz in 1944 while still a teenager.
She survived the concentration camps that claimed the lives of her mother, father and brother, and went on to become an indefatigable crusader for women's rights and European reconciliation.
Her biggest political achievement was pushing through a law to legalise abortion in France in 1974 in the face of fierce opposition.
Several hundred dignitaries, relatives and friends attended her funeral Wednesday at the Invalides military hospital and museum in Paris.