FRENCH AUTHORITIES HAVE honoured a Mali-born employee who saved lives at the kosher supermarket attacked by terrorists as a hero and granted him French citizenship.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve praised Muslim Lassana Bathily, 24, for his “courage” and “heroism” during a ceremony in the presence of Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
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 colour isn’t a matter. France is the country of human rights.
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.
Meanwhile, AFP reports that four men were to appear before a judge in France today to face possible charges of providing support to one of the Paris Islamist attackers.
The four men, aged 22, 25, 26 and 28, were among 12 people detained in police raids on Friday, a week after the jihadist attacks that left 17 people dead.
Three of the women detained in the raids were freed on Saturday and five people were released overnight Tuesday, the Paris prosecutors’ office said.
The remaining four will later face an anti-terrorist judge who will decide whether to charge them with providing logistical support to one of the Paris attackers, Amedy Coulibaly.
Coulibaly took hostages at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris on 9 January in a raid that left four dead. He is also suspected of shooting dead a policewoman the previous day just outside southern Paris.
He claimed to have acted in concert with Cherif and Said Kouachi, brothers who began the three days of Paris attacks on 7 January when they burst into the offices of the Charlie Hebdo, mowing down 12 people in revenge for cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammed.
The Paris attacks deeply shocked the country, prompting several million to pour onto the streets for rallies, and sparked an outpouring of international support for France.
Additional reporting © – AFP 2015