24-year-old Lassana Bathily, had applied for citizenship last year after arriving in France some 8 years or so ago from Mali. After his heroics (hiding a bunch of shoppers in the basement fridge), his application was fast tracked.
Bathily said he was "proud and moved" to have been granted citizenship. "People say I'm a hero, but I'm not a hero. I'm Lassana," he said at the ceremony. "I'll stay the same. I would do the same again, because I was following my heart."
The 24-year-old told France's BFM TV, "We are all brothers. It's not a question of being Jews, Christians or Muslims. We were all in the same boat. We had to help each other to get out of that crisis."Bathily explained:
"I was down in the basement for five minutes when I heard shots up there. … After the problems at Charlie Hebdo, I thought maybe the same thing was happening to us. At the same time, if not a few minutes later, I saw everyone running down. They started screaming, “They are there, they are there, they're in the shop!"According to VOA News:
Bathily described fleeing through a small but noisy freight lift. The frightened shoppers he harbored in the refrigerator chose to remain behind, with the lights turned off to avoid detection as gunman Coulibaly loomed overhead on the store's main floor.
Outside, a police force still reeling from the deadly attack on the magazine offices and the fatal shooting of a policewoman, handcuffed Bathily for 90 minutes until people who knew him confirmed he was not the attacker. Coulibaly was also black, French-speaking and of Malian origin.
With his hands freed, Bathily then drew a map of the store for police, detailing the offices, aisles and cash registers.
He pointed them to where the group was hidden in the basement. After four years of working there and praying within its walls during his shifts, he knew the shop by heart.
What he did was definitely commendable, but he's in denial- as so many others are- regarding terrorists being Muslim.
"I do not think they are Muslims, they are bandits. They are bandits. I am a Muslim and this is not our religion, our religion is not based on this. A terrorist is not a Muslim. Anyone can be a terrorist, anyone. These are bandits,” he said.
Sorry, but they are.