France's National Hero To Be Awarded Greatest Gift of All: Citizenship

Posted: Jan 15, 2015 3:45 PM

Not surprisingly, signatures began pouring in for a petition to bestow French citizenship upon one Lassana Bathily shortly after a gun-wielding terrorist was killed infiltrating a kosher grocery store where he worked last week. The Muslim immigrant is credited with saving countless French lives by assisting civilians away from the gunman and into hiding. As of this writing, the petition has already garnered more than 300,000 signatures. As a result the French government has agreed to honor the request:

A Malian Muslim who hid shoppers from an Islamist gunman during an attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris will be given French nationality, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday.

After the gunman had already killed people during a hostage taking in the store on Friday, 24-year old shop attendant Lassana Bathily hid several people in the store's freezer, turned off the light and told them to stay calm.

He then escaped to look for help. After initially being suspected of being an accomplice, he was able to tell police what was happening inside the store, where four Jewish hostages were killed before police shot gunman Amedy Coulibaly, a Frenchman of Malian origin.

Watch Bathily explain in his own words what happened:

I’m struck by how calm he sounds. After all, I suspect if the gunman had seen him when he went upstairs, he would have been summarily executed. Nevertheless, his actions reportedly saved every person trapped in that grocery store. So if you're wondering why more hostages weren't killed that terrible day, it's largely because of this man.

Bathily will become a French citizen on January 20.