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Muslim man who hid shoppers in Paris siege gets citizenship

PRAISED: Lassana Bathily

THE MUSLIM kosher supermarket employee who used the Paris store's chiller to hide shoppers when a gunman opened fired has been granted French citizenship.

Lassana Bathily, 24, was praised for his "courage and heroism" by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve during a ceremony in the presence of Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Mr Cazeneuve said Mali-born Bathily's "act of humanity has become a symbol of an Islam of peace and tolerance".

Mr Bathily was in the store's underground stockroom when Amedy Coulibaly burst in to the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Porte de Vincennes, Paris, on January 9 and killed four people.

The 24-year-old guided terrified customers to safety in a supermarket chiller and has since been praised around the world for his quick-thinking and bravery.

Mr Bathily, who reportedly led six people to safety, told BFMTV: "When they ran down, I opened the door [of the freezer].
'There are several people who came to me. I turned off the light, I turned off the freezer.

WARM WELCOME: French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, left, and French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, center, award citizenship to Lassana Bathily during a ceremony in Paris yesterday (Jan 20)

"When I turned off the cold, I put them [hostages] in, I closed the door, I told them to stay calm."

Using a goods lift he escaped and was able to give the police valuable information about what was happening inside and where the hostages were hiding.

"Tonight I'm very proud and deeply touched," Mr Bathily, who has lived in France since 2006 and attended a school in the capital, said at the ceremony yesterday.

"People are all equal to me and skin color isn't a matter. France is the country of human rights," he added.

He had filed an application for French citizenship last year.

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