Lassana Bathily, also known as “The Paris kosher supermarket hero,” has been flown to New York to be honoured at the annual scholarship dinner of the NYPD Muslim Officers Society for saving 15 French Jews during a terrorist attack in Paris.
Lassana Bathily, 24, a Muslim shop assistant originally from Mali in west Africa, was praised for risking his own life to save those he led to safety.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called Bathily a “real hero” and presented him with an official city proclamation honouring him for his actions in the supermarket attack in Paris on Jan. 9.
Blasio said “The 24-year-old Muslim hero stood up to protect human life even when his own life [was] in danger,” at the Islamic Center of Brighton Beach.
Bathily hid a group of shoppers, one with a baby, in a basement cold storage room at the Hyper Cacher supermarket to shield them from the gunman. He then escaped and provided the police vital details of the store's layout and a key to unlock the supermarket's metal blinds.
Bathily’s actions were critical in helping police end the siege, kill the attackers and free the hostages.
Earlier in the week the American Jewish Committee (AJC) presented Bathily with its Moral Courage Award during its 2015 Global Forum in Washington DC.
Bathily said “What I did was place people out of danger and ensure their safety, something everybody can do when they find themselves in such an extreme situation. If it were to happen again tomorrow, I would do exactly the same thing because, for me, this is a normal and humane response.”
Bathily, who has lived in France since 2006, was widely praised for his heroism during the attack and soon afterwards was granted French citizenship.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve praised Bathily's actions as "the highest gesture of Islam and peace."