As the authorities in France worked on Saturday to piece together the sequence of events at a kosher supermarket in Paris where a gunman and four hostages were killed on Friday, there was an outpouring of praise online for a young employee credited with saving the lives of some customers by hiding them in a cold-storage room.
The employee, Lassana Bathily, 24, was identified in the French news media as a Muslim from Mali who worked at the supermarket, Hyper Cacher, near the Porte de Vincennes in eastern Paris.
In an interview with the French channel BFMTV, Bathily said he ushered about 15 people into the basement room after the gunman burst into the shop. He then turned off the power.
“We were locked in there,” he said. “I told them to calm down, not make any noise, or else if he hears that we’re there, he can come down and kill us.”
Later in the four-hour siege, Bathily decided to leave the room and try to escape through a freight elevator leading to the attic. He encouraged others to join him, he said, but they were worried that the gunman, identified by police as Amedy Coulibaly, would be able to hear them if they used that escape route, so they decided to remain hidden.
Coulibaly was still inside when Bathily escaped, so the employee was ordered by the police to lie down and put his hands on his head. “I was a bit confused,” he told BFMTV, perhaps not having considered that he could have been mistaken for a militant.
Video that appeared to show that scene unfolding was recorded by a witness from a service station near the market and broadcast on Friday by Europe 1, another French television channel.
Bathily was then placed in handcuffs “for an hour and a half,” he said, but eventually was able to help the authorities plan their operation to liberate the hostages by describing the layout of the shop.
When the people he had hidden came out at the end of the siege, Bathily said, “they congratulated me.”
“They said, ‘Really, thanks for thinking of all these ideas.’ I said, ‘It’s nothing, it’s life.’ ”
As news of his heroics spread yesterday, there were numerous calls on social networks to reward him for his bravery with either the Legion of Honor, France’s highest award, or French citizenship.
Some observers also connected his actions to the hashtag used to praise Ahmed Merabet, a Muslim police officer killed on Wednesday by the gunmen who launched the deadly attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly.
So…… not all muslims follow the ideology that so many jihadi moms are pushing onto their children. He could have helped the terrorists so easily, yet he didn’t. He chose to help the Jews.
I believe there are many more like Monsieur Bathily….they just don’t get noticed. Their silence against the ideology of islam is the problem. If they would only join in with those who are renouncing the terrorism and the barbaric acts of islam, then perhaps things would change. Until then…. all muslims will be seen as the problem that is occurring in every country. They must speak out or be condemned.