Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

Ex-minister Tzipi Livni calls for freeze on Israeli settlements

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Net neutrality fight in US moves to courts, Congress

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

US decides to 'let corporate greed run the internet'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Marine Le Pen's former right-hand man plans his political rebirth

Read more

THE DEBATE

May overruled: Brexit momentum thwarted by Tory rebellion

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Somalia's Shabaab kill 18 policemen in academy bombing

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Tabloid rage over MPs' Brexit vote

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Saudi Arabia and UAE pledge €110.5 million for G5 Sahel joint force

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

FCC votes against net neutrality

Read more

Europe

Malian Paris hostage hero gets French citizenship

© Eric Feferberg, AFP | Bathily (left) is congratulated by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (right) during a ceremony at which Bathily was awarded French nationality in Paris on January 20, 2015

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2015-01-20

The Malian grocery worker who has been hailed as a hero for saving hostages’ lives when an Islamist militant attacked a kosher supermarket in Paris earlier this month was on Tuesday awarded French citizenship for his bravery.

Lassana Bathily, 24, was joined by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Prime Minister Manuel Valls in a packed naturalisation ceremony.

“I am so happy to get dual nationality,” said a smiling Bathily, who also received a medal for his actions. “Long live freedom, long live solidarity, long live France.”

Cazeneuve praised him for his “courage” and “heroism”.

Bathily, who arrived in France from Mali in 2006 and received his working papers five years later, has been credited with saving many lives in the January 9 attack that killed four people at the kosher store in eastern Paris. Previous militant attacks that week killed 13 others, most of them at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in central Paris.

Hailed by Cazeneuve and Valls as a model of decency and Republican values, Bathily tried for years to obtain French nationality and was even turned down in 2011 before he was handed his passport by Valls on Tuesday.

The inventory worker was in a storage room in the rear of the market when Amédy Coulibaly, the Islamist militant later killed by police, burst into the store.

“When I heard the gunshots I saw a lot of people running ... saying ‘Help, help, they’re here, the killers, they’ve come into the store!’” he told BFM-TV in an interview last week.

Bathily, who had worked at the store for four years, ushered the panicked shoppers into a cold storage room where they waited out the attack. Bathily turned off the stockroom’s freezer and then tried to convince the others to escape by an elevator, but they were concerned its noise would alert Coulibaly to their presence.

Courting that risk himself, Bathily fled the store and was promptly handcuffed by police, who interrogated him for an hour and a half, he said.

After finally convincing them that he was a store employee, Bathily described the layout of the market to police to help them prepare their raid.

Bathily, a practising Muslim who prayed in a back room of the Jewish market during his breaks, told BFM-TV it was perfectly normal to have helped the way he did.

“Yes, I helped Jews get out. We’re brothers,” he said. “It’s not that we’re Jewish or Christian or Muslims, we’re all in the same boat. You help so you can get through this attack.”

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2015-01-20

  • FRANCE

    Four suspects face charges after Paris attacks

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Second Charlie Hebdo gunman given anonymous burial

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Kosher grocery hostage-taker’s accomplice 'left France'

    Read more

COMMENT(S)