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January 15, 2015 1:27 pm

Muslim Hero of HyperCacher Siege to Receive French Citizenship

avatar by Ben Cohen

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Lassana Bathily, the Malian Muslim of the HyperCacher siege in Paris, is to receive French citizenship. Photo: change.org

Lassana Bathily, the Malian national who rescued 15 people trapped in the terror siege at the HyperCacher supermarket last Friday, is to receive French citizenship, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Thursday  – but his admirers want the government to go further, and grant him France’s highest award.

Bathily, who has lived in France since 2006, applied for French citizenship in July last year and worked as an assistant at the HyperCacher market. Last Friday, when Islamist terrorist Amedy Coulibaly seized the store in a bid to secure the freedom of Charlie Hebdo gunmen Said and Cherif Kouachi, who were pinned down by French police in a separate siege, Bathily ushered terrified customers into a basement storeroom, telling them to remain calm and keep silent.

Bathily then made contact with the police outside by sneaking out of the building through a fire escape. Thinking that he was an accomplice of Coulibaly, Bathily was seized by the police, who placed him in handcuffs for the next 90 minutes before he convinced them that he was trying to assist the hostages. Thanks to the information about the store’s layout which Bathily provided, police were able to end the siege without further endangering the hostages.

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Bathily later reflected, “We are brothers. It’s not a question of Jews, of Christians or of Muslims. We’re all in the same boat, we have to help each other to get out of this crisis.”

A petition urging the French government to grant Bathily citizenship and bestow upon him the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest award, had garnered 300,000 signatures by Thursday morning. “This ordinary hero is a role model,” the petition declared. “An undocumented citizen when he first arrived in France, he was finally welcomed in a Jewish store, and he saved fifteen Jewish people. Fifteen people. Simply.”

Responding to the news that Bathily is to receive French citizenship, Thiaba Bruni, the organizer of the petition, said that “this is a first victory: we must keep campaigning so that Lassana receives the Legion of Honor, an award that honors the most deserving citizens, known or unknown.”

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  • charlie johnson

    I won’t quit on this. I would like to remind the people about the Nobel peace prize.I used to keep track of the winners.During the closing of our Vietnam war there were two winners. Kissinger and Ho Chi Mihn.Kissinger accepted the one million dollars prize money. Ho Chi Mihn refused the money.At the time he was my enemy.But I respect him for not taking the money.There was Al Gore who received a million dollars prize. On my grande scale the man was already wealthy. He used questionable ethics (in my view) to get this prize. Then we have the golfing parrot.How did he win a peace prize? He had done nothing but babble words at the time.Did he need money? Then here we have poor black immigrant among strangers in a foreign nation. He put his life on the line in his efforts to protect unarmed civilians from a terrorist attack. Why did he do this? Because he is of a peaceful nature to the extreme. It is my guess that those this young black Muslim saved would declare him the best candidate for the Nobel peace prize among all the former winners. Somebody needs to get these Nobel folks number and mention this good man.

  • charlie johnson

    PS. If he ran for governor of Texas or president of the USA he would get my vote.Not because he has a degree from a major university . He surely has none.But because he has greater qualifications. A good heart.

  • charlie johnson

    I personally think this wonderful young man deserves the honor. He is a hero to me.Even if he gets no recognition at all,He will always be a hero to me.If you really think of the choice he made for the people who were different from him,You would see he could have taken the easy way out at little risk.In my past I have came upon such choices.It is either shame or fame,Then even when you do the right thing there is seldom much fame . Seems nobody cares.

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