The commune of Anderlecht has paid homage to French human-rights icon Simone Veil by giving her name to a new avenue built in the Trèfles neighbourhood, the municipality announced on Monday. The name of the late women’s rights activist, who died in 2017 at the age of 89, was selected through a call for ideas issued to residents of the neighbourhood.
Born in 1927 into a non-practising Jewish family, Simone Veil was arrested in 1944 by the Gestapo and deported to the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Bergen Bilsenau, both of which she survived. After the war, she studied law and entered the French bar.
During her career, she fought for the adoption of a law authorising voluntary interruption of pregnancy (1974). She went on to become the first female Speaker of Parliament in 1979.
By naming a street after Veil, the Brussels commune also aims to honour the memory of its Jewish community which, before World War II and the 1942-1943 pogroms, lived in the Cureghem neighbourhood.
It is also there that the National Memorial to the Jewish Martyrs of Belgium, which marks its 50th anniversary, is located.