A Mali national who saved the lives of six shoppers at the terror-besieged Paris Hyper Cacher last Friday will be given French citizenship as a reward for his efforts.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called Lassana Bathily, a resident of France since 2006, a “hero” and praised him for his bravery, AFP reported Thursday.
Amedy Coulibaly had already murdered four people when the 24-year-old devout Muslim, an employee at the kosher grocery, quietly spirited his charges down to the basement and hid them in a walk-in refrigerator. He later escaped the supermarket through the delivery lift and flagged down police during the hostage crisis, giving them information on the layout of the store that was vital to ending the siege. But that was after he first made sure the customers were safe.
“I turned off the light and I turned off the freezer. I left the freezer and told them to stay calm,” Bathily told Israel’s Hebrew-language newspaper, Yediot Acharonot. “I am a devout Muslim, I even pray in the store. We get on excellently, the Jews and I, and the terror attack has hurt me. I have been in shock since it happened.”
Among the people he saved was a tiny 1-month-old baby, but the Malian said his actions were those ‘any human should take’ for others facing a threat from a common enemy.
Bathily’s actions drew worldwide praise, with 220,000 signatures on an Internet petition calling for his naturalization in France.
“We’re brothers. It’s not a question of Jews, Christians or Muslims,” he told French television news channel BFMTV.
“We’re all in the same boat, and we have to help one another to get out of this crisis.”