An act of bravery, quick-thinking and courage has be aptly rewarded by the French government after they granted the employee at a French kosher supermarket who hid hostages in a freezer, thus saving them from gunmen, citizenship of the country.
Mali-born Lassana Bathily, 24, was hailed as a hero in a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
Cazeneuve said Bathily’s "act of humanity has become a symbol of an Islam of peace and tolerance".
"Tonight I’m very proud and deeply touched," Bathily said with tears in his eyes, humbly stressing that he doesn’t consider himself a hero. “I am Lassana. I’ll stay true to myself.”
“People are all equal to me and skin color isn’t a matter. France is the country of human rights,” he added.
Bathily was in the store’s underground stockroom when gunman Amedy Coulibaly burst in upstairs on January 9 and killed four people. He turned off the stockroom’s freezer and hid a group of shoppers inside before sneaking out through a fire escape to speak to police and help them with their operation to free the 15 hostages and kill the attacker.
Bathily has lived in France since 2006. He had filed an application for French citizenship last year.