Heroic Grocery Clerk Saved Hostages During Parisian Market Siege

Illustration for article titled Heroic Grocery Clerk Saved Hostages During Parisian Market Siege

Amidst the horrific news that's come out of Paris this week, a ray of humanity appears: a 24-year old Muslim grocery clerk, Lassana Bathily, who was working at the kosher market that came under terrorist siege the day after masked gunmen shot and killed 12 at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, managed to save 15 hostages by hiding them in the store's basement freezer when the gunmen took fire.

Via BuzzFeed:

Bathily, a 24-year-old Muslim from Mali, was working in the store in the Porte de Vincennes neighborhood when the Islamist gunman burst in.

As panic ensued, up to 15 customers in the store hurried down to the store basement, when Bathily had an idea.

"When they ran down, I opened the door [to the freezer]," he told France's BFMTV.

He quickly shut off the freezer and switched off its light. As he closed the door to shelter the customers inside, he told them, "Stay calm here. I'm going out."

Eventually police raided the market, killing Coulibaly. As the hostages were freed from the freezer, they had a few words of thanks for Bathily. "They congratulated me," he told BFMTV.


France, home to the largest Muslim population in Europe, is still reeling from its deadliest week in decades, with businesses, schools, and even entire neighborhoods shut down in the aftermath of the attacks, which are credited to an Al Qaeda outpost operating in Yemen. The international community has stepped forward with an outpouring of support for France and the freedom of speech, utilizing the hashtag #jesuischarlie ("I am Charlie") on social media to express sympathy.

Screengrab via BuzzFeed.

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There are two wonderful things happening here in this story:

1. This fucking hero. This absolute fucking hero. I hope they throw him a parade. I want to throw him a parade. Thank you, thank you, thank you Lassana, you absolute fucking hero.

2. This Muslim man, working in a Kosher grocery, in a famed Parisian Jewish neighborhood, saving his friends and neighbors, his coworkers. France has the largest population of Muslims in Europe, but it also has the largest population of Jews in Europe, and both communities have been under attack from their countrymen from years. France has seen a sharp uptick in violent anti-Semitism at the same time it's seen an uptick in Islamophobia. But this right here, this is the undeniable in the small scale: Muslims and Jews, all French, all neighbors, working and living together, protecting and helping each other. This is just a reminder that xenophobes and radical religions and bigots can yell and scream and lash out all they want, but you don't have to give into it. Not even a little bit.