French icon Simone Veil to be buried in Pantheon on Sunday in rare honor
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French icon Simone Veil to be buried in Pantheon on Sunday in rare honor

Hundreds expected to pay respects as remains of Jewish Holocaust survivor, activist and politician who died last year moved to storied Paris monument

French President Emmanuel Macron (C, top) attends a tribute ceremony for French politician and Holocaust survivor Simone Veil in the courtyard of the Invalides in Paris, France, on July 5, 2017.  (AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD)
French President Emmanuel Macron (C, top) attends a tribute ceremony for French politician and Holocaust survivor Simone Veil in the courtyard of the Invalides in Paris, France, on July 5, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD)

PARIS, France — Hundreds of people are expected to line the streets of Paris on Sunday to honor Holocaust survivor and women’s rights icon Simone Veil, who will be given the rare honor of burial at the Pantheon a year and a day after her death at age 89.

Veil’s death prompted an outpouring of emotion, as she had long been considered one of France’s most popular and trusted public figures.

She will be only the fifth woman buried at the monument to France’s dignitaries, where she will be laid to rest with her husband Antoine, a high-ranking civil servant who died in 2013.

“Mum never thought she would be placed in the Pantheon. The only one in the couple who imagined she would enter the Pantheon was our father,” Jean Veil, the oldest of their three sons, said last week.

This file photo taken on June 16, 2011 in Paris shows Auschwitz survivor and the first elected president of the European parliament Simone Veil, leaving with her husband Antoine Veil the Institut de France after her entry ceremony as member of the prestigious Academie Francaise, the guardian of the French language. (Thomas Samson/AFP)

Simone Veil was 16 when she was deported along with family members in 1944 to Auschwitz. Her mother, father and brother were killed in the Holocaust.

After her return she became a resolute advocate of women’s rights as well as European reconciliation, securing her biggest political victory in 1974 by convincing the French parliament to legalise abortion despite fierce opposition.

(FILES) This file photo taken on June 10, 1979 shows Simone Veil casting her ballot in Paris during the European elections. (Pierre Guillaud/AFP)

She also became the first elected president of the European Parliament in 1979, a post she held for three years.

“The fact that we have built Europe has reconciled me with the 20th century,” despite living with the trauma of the Holocaust, Veil once said in a television interview.

The transfer of Veil’s remains to the Pantheon began Friday, when her and her husband’s coffins were exhumed from the Montparnasse cemetery and brought to the crypt of the French Holocaust Memorial in central Paris, which she helped found.

On Sunday morning, the funeral cortege will be escorted by Republican Guards over the Seine and through the Latin Quarter.

Pall-bearers will then carry the coffins up the Rue Soufflot, walking on a blue carpet, “the colour of peace, of the United Nations and of course of Europe,” the presidency said.

French President Emmanuel Macron pays his respects by the coffin of French politician and Holocaust survivor Simone Veil during a tribute ceremony in the courtyard of the Invalides in Paris, France, on July 5, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD)

President Emmanuel Macron, attending with his wife Brigitte and dozens of French officials, is to give a speech.

After a minute’s silence, the “Marseillaise” national anthem will be sung by the American soprano Barbara Hendricks.

The coffin will lie in state until Monday, and admission to the Pantheon will be free from July 1 to 8.

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