21-Jun-2018

Malian migrant offered honorary French citizenship after he saves toddler on balcony

PARIS May 29: A Malian migrant who scaled the outside of a four-storey building to rescue a dangling toddler has been named an honorary French citizen after meeting with the president, Emmanuel Macron said.
 
Mamoudou Gassama – nicknamed the Spiderman of Paris – scaled the apartment block to reach the helpless four-year-old.
 
The 22-year-old, who only arrived in the city a few months ago, had already been told authorities would support his efforts to settle there after a video of his heroics went viral.
 
But, after meeting him at the Elysee Palace, Mr Macron said Mr Gassama would be made a naturalised citizen straight away.
 
Mr Macron personally thanked Mr Gassama, gave him a medal for courage and said he would also be made a fireman, the AFP news agency reports.
 
Footage taken at the scene on Saturday night shows crowds watching in astonishment as the have-a-go hero climbs the four floors in less than a minute to pull the four-year-old to safety.
 
He told French broadcaster BFMTV afterwards: “I did not think, I saved him." He added: “When I took him in my arms, I spoke with him and asked: 'Why did you do that?' But he did not answer."
 
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo lauded his actions and said she had called him to personally say thanks.
 
Calling him the "Spiderman of the 18th" – a reference to the city district where the incident unfolded – she said: “Congratulations to Mamoudou Gassama for his act of bravery that saved the life of a child.”
 
The Parisian fire service told how they arrived at the scene, only to find their work already done.
 
“Luckily, there was someone who was physically fit and who had the courage to go and get the child," a spokesman said.
 
Local authorities told French media the child's parents were not at home at the time. The father has been questioned by police on suspicion of leaving his child unattended while going to the shops. The mother was not in Paris at the time, it is reported.