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Hero From Paris Kosher Supermarket Attack to Become French Citizen

Mali-born Muslim Lassana Bathily, who worked in the store, hid customers in basement. Read More

By / January 16, 2015

Lassana Bathily, an employee of the Paris kosher supermarket targeted in a terrorist attack on January 9, will soon receive French citizenship. The 24-year-old was hailed as hero when it emerged that he had hidden a group of customers in a freezer in the basement of the store at the beginning of attack, saving them from almost certain death upstairs.

In an interview with the BBC, Bathily—a Muslim from Mali—recounted the day’s events and his own quiet heroism.

When he heard gunshots and screams, he ushered terrified customers into a cold storage room, urging them to keep calm. “If the terrorist comes down here he must not hear you,” he told them, turning off the lights and the refrigeration. He then fled in a freight elevator, and was able to provide police with crucial intelligence to help end the siege.

Bathily, who moved to France in 2006 when he was just 16, recalled his Jewish co-workers with fondness. “I can still see [victim] Yohan alive, walking towards me,” he told the BBC. “We’d always have a laugh, and we all cared for each other… They’d tease me. I’m Muslim, and they’d always ask me when I’m going to get a Jewish girlfriend.”

After learning of his heroism, the public began clamoring for Bathily to be granted French citizenship. (So far, over 350,000 people have signed an online petition to that effect.) Yesterday, the Interior Ministry announced that Bathily’s citizenship application would be expedited. A naturalization ceremony will take place on January 20, presided over by Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

(Image: Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock.com)

Related: Jewish Victims of Paris Terror Attack Named