Politicians call for Hessel to be buried in Pantheon

Stéphane Hessel. Photo: flickr: jmayrault

Stéphane Hessel. Photo: flickr: jmayrault

The impact of the late Stéphane Hessel may be greater than France had initially perceived. Various political figures have called for Hessel to be buried in the Pantheon, alongside other French greats such as Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, and Emile Zola.

An official petition addressed to French President Francois Hollande was published to the press on Liberation.fr. It highlights the long lasting effect Hessel’s career will have, declaring, “Stephane Hessel’s message, his call for indignation, his refusal of all forms of injustice must now be a part of our shared heritage…We ardently hope that the civic pedagogy and collective memory testifies to the importance of the spirit of resistance.”

The petition boasts more than 10,000 signatories, including several figures of note, including former presidential candidate Eva Joly of the Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (the French Green Party), deputy Pouria Amirshahi of the left-leaning Parti socialiste, and Etienne Pinte, previous deputy of the center-right Union pour un movement populaire.

Hessel died February 27 at the age of 95. Hessel was a diplomat, ambassador, and celebrated author whose work held immense influence across the globe. He rose to fame in 2010 with the publication of his manifesto “Indignez-Vous!,” or “Time for Outrage.” The manifesto inspired such movements as Occupy Wall Street, and immediately made Hessel a best-selling author.

Many political figures have vocalized their support of the petition. “We can render him this honor. If it is proposed, I will not say anything [against it],” said Jean-Luc Melenchon, co-president of the Parti de Gauche (Left Party).

Others are less enthusiastic about the petition. According to French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, “He would not have wanted this. He was a simple man.”

Hessel is recognized for his efforts as a French resistance fighter under General Charles de Gaulle during the German occupation of France during World War Two. Though the Gestapo arrested him, he escaped twice. The petition cites this as part of the reasoning for his burial in the Pantheon, praising his “never ending courage…in his service to France, his defense of democracy…to promote the values of the rights of man.”

The petition is open to the public and has a goal of 20,000 signatures.

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