‘Spider-Man’ of Paris to get French citizenship after rescuing child
Malian migrant who climbed four storeys thanked by President Emmanuel Macron
A Malian migrant hailed as a hero for scaling a building in Paris to save a four-year-old child hanging from a balcony is to be granted French citizenship.
Mamoudou Gassama took just seconds to reach the child in a rescue captured on film and viewed millions of times online.
After meeting Gassama at the Élysée Palace on Monday morning, President Emmanuel Macron thanked the 22-year-old and said he would be made a naturalised citizen. Macron also said he would be given a role as a volunteer firefighter.
Gassama told the French broadcaster BFMTV that when he saw the child clinging on to the fourth-floor balcony, “I did not think, I saved him”.
He said: “When I took him in my arms, I spoke with him and asked: ‘Why did you do that?’ But he did not answer.”
The incident took place at about 8pm on Saturday in northern Paris.
Footage of the rescue shows Gassama pulling himself up the building from balcony to balcony as a man tries to hold on to the child.
On reaching the fourth floor, Gassama puts one leg over the balcony before reaching out with his right arm and grabbing the child.
Firefighters arrived at the scene to find the child had already been rescued.
“Luckily, there was someone who was physically fit and who had the courage to go and get the child,” a fire service spokesman said.
Tracked down by reporters a day later, Gassama said he had acted without thinking. “I saw all these people shouting and cars sounding their horns. I climbed up like that and, thank God, I saved the child,” he said.
“I felt afraid when I saved the child … [when] we went into the living room, I started to shake, I could hardly stand up, I had to sit down.”
Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, praised Gassama on Twitter for his “act of bravery” and phoned him to “thank him warmly”. She described him as the “Spider-Man of the 18th”, referring to the Paris district where the rescue happened.
“He explained to me that he had arrived from Mali a few months ago dreaming of building his life here,” she said. “I told him that his heroic act is an example to all citizens and that the city of Paris will obviously be very keen to support him in his efforts to settle in France.”
According to initial inquiries by the authorities, the child’s parents were not at home when the incident occurred. The father was questioned by police for having left his child unattended and was due in court later, a judicial source said. The child’s mother was not in Paris at the time.