Paris, May 28 (IANS) A Malian migrant, hailed as a hero after mounting a daring rescue to save a small boy dangling from a balcony in Paris, was on Monday offered honorary French citizenship and a job as a fireman.
French President Emmanuel Macron met 22-year-old Mamoudou Gassama, who has been dubbed “Spiderman” by the media after a video showing him swiftly scaling the facade of a building to come to the rescue of a four-year-old boy who was hanging from a balcony went viral on Sunday.
In the video, Gassama was seen pulling himself from balcony to balcony and grabbing the boy as a neighbour tried to hold the child from an adjoining flat.
The incident took place on Saturday evening on a street in the north of the city.
After meeting him at the Elysee Palace, Macron said Gassama would be made a naturalised citizen. He personally thanked Gassama, gave him a medal for courage and said he would also be offered a role in the fire service, the BBC reported.
Talking about the incident, Gassama said he had been walking past when he saw a crowd gathered in front of the building. “I just didn’t have time to think, I ran across the road to go and save him,” he told Macron.
“I just climbed up and thank God, God helped me. The more I climbed the more I had the courage to climb up higher, that’s it,” Gassama said.
He said that the boy was crying when he hauled him to safety and had also suffered an injured foot.
Authorities quoted by the French media said that the mother of the boy was not in Paris at the time of the incident, while the father was questioned by police on suspicion of leaving the child unattended. He was set to appear in front of the prosecutor.
Gassama is said to have arrived in France last year, taking the long and dangerous journey to Europe via a boat over the Mediterranean to Italy.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was among those to praise Gassama’s heroism and said she had called him to thank him.
She referred to him as the “Spiderman of the 18th”, referring to the Paris district where the rescue took place, calling him an “example for all citizens”.