A young Muslim shop assistant is being hailed a hero for giving a safe hiding place to hostages fleeing gunman Amedy Coulibaly after he stormed a Jewish supermarket in Paris.
Originally from Mali in west Africa, 24-year-old Lassana Bathily reportedly guided frightened customers to safety in a storage freezer as the gunman took hold of the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Porte de Vincennes, Paris, on Friday.
The Independent reports that Bathily has been praised for his role in helping customers.
“When they ran down, I opened the door (from the freezer),” he told BFMTV.
“There are several people who came to me. I turned off the light, I turned off the freezer.”
“When I turned off the cold, I put them [hostages] in, I closed the door, I told them to stay calm.”
DailyMail reports that escaped using a goods lift and was able to give police valuable information about what was happening inside and where the hostages were hiding.
Reluctant to tell his story he said that after the shoot-out many of the customers came to shake his hand and thank him for what he did.
His picture – labelled Malian Muslim – has been tweeted around the world as a symbol of the good of people united against terrorism.
At least five people, including the attacker, died at a kosher grocery in Paris where a gunman took several hostages.French President Francois Hollande confirmed that four hostages were killed in the siege.
“It is indeed an appalling anti-Semitic act that was committed,” he said of the hostage-taking by a gunman at the Hyper Cacher supermarket in the Vincennes district.
Hollande called for national unity and said the country should remain “implacable” in the face of racism and anti-Semitism.
Security forces stormed the grocery minutes after their counterparts assaulted the building outside Paris where two brothers suspected in the Charlie Hebdo killings had holed up.
Muslim policeman’s killing sparks anger
A Muslim police officer was brutally executed in the street during the horrific Charlie Hebdo terror attack.
Footage showed Ahmed Merabet being shot by terrorists at point-blank range during the attack at the magazine’s Paris office.
The 42-year-old bicycle patrolman’s death has led to an outpouring of sympathy in France. His name trended on Twitter under the rallying cry #JeSuisAhmed – or “I Am Ahmed”.
Many of the thousands who showed solidarity with the officer pointed out he died protecting those who ridiculed his religion.
A tweet by Dyab Abou Jahjah, retweeted more than 36,000 times, said: “I am not Charlie, I am Ahmed the dead cop. Charlie ridiculed my faith and culture and I died defending his right to do so.
Merabet’s colleagues were in shock at the brutal way he was “shot down like a dog”.