Most times, the stories told about immigrants are not always good ones, but today, I am happy to be telling the story of an immmigrant from Mali, a brave African man, a Muslim hero whose name is Lassana Bathily.
French police launched a double man hunt last Friday for the Kouachi brothers, Cherif and Said, who attacked the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo which left 12 people dead on Wednesday and Amedy Coulibaly who shot a policewoman at Montrouge in southern Paris on Thursday.
The manhunt for Amedy ended at a Kosher grocery store called Hyper Cacher, which is located near the Porte de Vincennes in eastern Paris. The terrorist, who was being trailed by the French police, stormed into the supermarket opening fire and immediately killing 3 people.
He took several shoppers hostage and threatened to kill them if the police stormed the printing shop where the terrorist brothers had also taken control of a printing plant.
More than 7 shoppers were able to run downstairs when they heard the gunman enter the store. There, they found an employee who was at work in the underground stockroom.
Lassana Bathily, a 24-year-old Malian citizen who is a Muslim, was working downstairs. He also heard the gun shots but he did not see the gunman. He hid shoppers, several whom were Jewish, in a basement walk-in freezer. He turned the lights and freezer off and asked them to calm down and not make any noise so the Islamist does not hear them. They spent about five hours hidden in the cold freezer.
Amedy asked one of the employees of the supermarket to go down and ask all the people there to come up or he would kill them all if he had to go down himself. At this moment, Lassana came up with a plan to get out of the supermarket through a fire escape. He asked others to come with him, but they declined, afraid that the gunman would hear them. What Lassana didn't know at this time was that the gunman was black and he could be mistaken for him if he went out. He slipped out of the basement and walked out of the building. He was mistaken as an accomplice and was ordered to lie down and put his hands behind his head.
Watch the video of the moment he walked out here :
He provided the police with the key they needed to open the supermarket barricaded with metal blinds and also gave them information about the store’s layout. The Police opened the metal blinds, barged through the front door and mounted their assault killing the gunman without endangering the hostages.
Lassana played an important role in the assault that put an end to the hostage crisis at the kosher supermarket which left the 4 hostages dead. A total of 15 hostages were freed.
At about the same time, the Police killed the Kouachi brothers who came out of the printing shop shooting at them. No hostage was killed during this assault.
Lassana told the French media that the hostages thanked him when they finally emerged from the basement :
“They congratulated me. They said, ‘Really, thanks for thinking of all these ideas.’ I said, ‘It’s nothing. It’s life.’ ”
"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."Watch the video here :
During a speech at the Grand Synagogue in Paris on Sunday, Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Lassana Bathily for saving the hostages. Jewish Defense League of France (Ligue de Défense Juive) also thanked Lassana Bathily on Twitter using the hashtag #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies.
Lassana who comes from Mali moved to France in 2006 at the age of 16. The French have called for him to be awarded France’s highest honor and also be granted French citizenship which he applied for since July.
An online petition on Change.org and a Facebook page was created to support him. French President François Hollande called him on Sunday to offer his gratitude before going to the Republican march.
Almost 300,000 people signed the petition and according to the French Interior Miniser Bernard Cazeneuve, a naturalization ceremony will take place on Tuesday 20th January to grant the hero the French citizen.
This is the story of a silent hero. Lassana Bathily, 24 years old, Malian, Muslim, brave, humble, kind.
A big thank you to all silent heros in the world. Thank you Lassana for saving the lives of over a dozen people. Thank you for saving the life of Jews and thanks also to the Jews who employed you without caring about your religion.
May all our good deeds be like trees planted by the river side and that brings forth good fruits in its due season.