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    Young Muslim Immigrant Praised for Life Saving Actions During Seige

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    A young Muslim immigrant from Mali demonstrated immense courage as he saved shoppers from a gunman at a Paris kosher store.

    MOSCOW, January 12 (Sputnik) –24-year-old Lassana Bathily, the Paris kosher shop assistant has been praised for saving Jews in the Paris attacks and for literally providing police with the key to end the hostage crisis at the supermarket, reports Associated Press.

    Lassana Bathily was in the underground stockroom on Friday when gunman Amedy Coulibaly burst in upstairs, firing from a Kalashnikov.

    “When he (the gunman) entered the store, people came rushing down saying there was an armed madman,” Bathily told France 24. “I thought the only option was to hide in the freezer, so I switched it off and got everyone inside.”

    Bathily knew the emergency exists and he tried to persuade some of the people to follow him as he sneaked out of the building using a goods lift, but they were too afraid to follow him. He now recalls that he took a chance to get out, but if he had been seen he would have been killed.

    As he walked towards police with his hands up, the shop assistant was mistaken for the attacker, forced to the ground and hand-cuffed for over an hour, reports France 24.

    When the police realized their mistake, Bathily gave them a key to open the supermarket's metal blinds and begin their seige. The police managed to free 15 hostages, although sadly four Jews died at the hands of the attacker.

    Lassana Bathily received a phone call from President François Hollande on Sunday. There was also praise from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who participated in the Paris march, along with the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.

    “II want to express my appreciation to the Mali citizen who helped save seven Jews,” Netanyahu said during a visit to the French’s capitals Grand Synagogue later in the day, reports France 24.

    Bathily’s heroism provides France with a much-needed positive story at a time of anguish and fear of backlash against France's Muslim population, which is Europe's largest.

    People have expressed their praise for Bathily on social media calling for him to be given both French citizenship and the Legion of Honor, France’s highest distinction.

    A Facebook page created on Saturday for the supermarket hero has already gathered more than 15,000 likes, while thousands of people on Twitter have shared the hashtag #UneMedaillePourLassana (A medal for Lassana), reports France 24.

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