Tributes to the politi­cian Si­mone Veil, and a ‘soft power’ ac­co­lade for France.

France - - Contents -

Si­mone Veil, the French politi­cian, women’s rights cham­pion and Holo­caust sur­vivor who has died at the age of 89, is to be laid to rest in the Panthéon in Paris. Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron an­nounced that the for­mer min­is­ter would re­ceive the rare hon­our to show the “im­mense grat­i­tude of the French peo­ple to one of its most loved chil­dren”.

He paid trib­ute to the politi­cian at her fu­neral at Les In­valides, where the Garde Répub­li­caine car­ried her cof­fin.

Born to a Jewish fam­ily in Nice in 1927, Si­mone Veil was ar­rested by the Ger­mans dur­ing the war and sent to Auschwitz and then Ber­gen-belsen con­cen­tra­tion camps.

The Holo­caust sur­vivor was ap­pointed health min­is­ter in Valéry Gis­cardd’es­taing’s cen­tre-right gov­ern­ment in 1974 and steered through land­mark laws, in­clud­ing the right to abor­tion and le­gal­i­sa­tion of the oral con­tra­cep­tive pill. The con­tro­ver­sial abor­tion leg­is­la­tion, named the Loi Veil, was passed in 1975 and is con­sid­ered one of the foun­da­tions of women’s rights and sec­u­lar­ism in France.

Si­mone Veil went on to serve as the first elected Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in 1979, and re-en­tered French pol­i­tics in the 1990s. In 2010, she joined the Académie Française – guardians of the French lan­guage – be­com­ing only the sixth woman to join the ‘im­mor­tals’, as the 40 acad­emy mem­bers are known.

She will be­come the fifth woman to be laid to rest in the Panthéon, along­side 76 men. Other na­tional fig­ures buried there in­clude writ­ers Émile Zola and Vic­tor Hugo, and sci­en­tist Marie Curie. The body of her hus­band, politi­cian An­toine Veil, who died in 2013, will be moved to join her in the crypt.

ABOVE: Si­mone Veil in the uni­form of the Académie Française; BE­LOW: Her fu­neral at Les In­valides

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