|Even in the darkness and desolation, there is always somewhere a ray of light. Lassana Bathily, a young Malian Muslim man, has lightened a week that otherwise would have been completely darkened. Lassana Bathily saved lives by hiding customers in the shop’s cold room, while the hostage taker walked into the kosher supermarket in Vincennes, France, this Friday.
"I went to the freezer, I opened the door, and many people came in with me. I told them to calm down, not to make noise" he said on BFMTV. That is how a dozen people escaped almost certain death.
When he got out of the store, police arrested and handcuffed him for 1.5 hours, assuming that this black man was inevitably one of the terrorists. When the police finally realized their mistake, they interrogated him, and he gave them the plan of the store, which has facilitated the police intervention.
The young man of 24 is particularly humble: "I am a Muslim, practicing. I’ve already done my prayers in this store, in the storehouse. And yes, I helped the Jews. We are brothers, he said. This is not a question of Jews, Christians or Muslims, we are all in the same boat" he declared.
This ordinary hero is a role model. An undocumented citizen when he first arrive to France, he was finally welcomed in a Jewish store, and he saved fifteen Jewish people. Fifteen people. Simply.
There are many lessons to be learnt from this story. Stereotyping led the police to lose 1.5 hours in a context where every minute can be decisive. But the story of Lassana is also a great lesson on the benefits of mutual aid and brotherhood, which is the deeper meaning of all true religion.
For all these reasons, we ask the President François Hollande to grant him French citizenship and the Legion of Honor.
Thiaba Bruni, spokesman CRAN