Who said been a good guy doesn’t pay? Because today, Tuesday the 20th of January 2015 Lassana Bathily, a 24-year-old Muslim immigrant, was given a full French Citizenship for saving seven Jewish hostages from being killed by terrorists.
Lassana Bathily was working as a shop assistant at a Jewish Hyper Cacher in Paris when the terrorist struck. He was in the underground stockroom on Friday, (9.1.15) when Amédy Coulibaly burst in upstairs, firing from a Kalashnikov killing four people in the process.
Following the fracas shoppers, most of them Jews, came rushing towards Mr. Bathily saying there was an armed madman. Lassana thought the only option was to hide in the freezer, so he switched it off and got everyone inside.
Bathily tried to persuade some to follow him as he sneaked out of the building, but they were too scared to move. He then closed the door, and told them to stay calm before sneaking out to alert the police about what was happening inside.
“I knew the emergency exits so I took my chance, but if the gunman had seen me I would have been dead,” Lassana said.
As he walked towards police with his hands up, Lassana was mistaken for the attacker, forced to the ground and hand-cuffed for over an hour. Once police realised their mistake, he provided them with a key to open the supermarket’s metal blinds and mount their assault. Coulibaly, a muslim Frenchman also of a Malian origin, was killed in the ensuing firefight with police.
Because of what he did Mr. Bathily, who arrived in France at the age of 16 in 2006, got a phone call from President François Hollande on Sunday, ahead of the huge rally that drew more than one million people to the streets of Paris.There was also praise from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who took part in the historic march, along with the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.
Lassana Bathily was also the subject of an online petition signed by around 300,000 people, calling for him to be given a French passport as well as the Legion d’honneur, the country’s highest honour.
Presenting the honor Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve praised Bathily for his “courage” and “heroism”. During a ceremony Tuesday – in the presence of Prime Minister Manuel Valls, the people who were taken hostage together with their families, politicians, members of police and special forces, as well as the managers of the supermarket, – Cazeneuve said Bathily’s “act of humanity has become a symbol of an Islam of peace and tolerance.”
Although French people are pleased with Mr. Lassana’s recognition many are still demanding him to be presented with the country’s highest honour.
This story reminds me of a few lessons:
1. Love Is Superior To Evil: The people that command our outermost admiration and respect are those that though in trouble themselves still make others smile and use their remaining strength to strengthen others.
2. Love Comes in Different Containers: The world is full of “non-religious” people who are extremely caring. Unfortunately, our streets are also littered with people who profess to be deeply “spiritual” and yet are the ones that inflict the most horrific acts of evil.
3. Love Pays: The best way to achieve lasting and fulfilling success is by serving others. Sometimes acts of love aren’t instantly or openly recognised. But the good news is that God our ultimate adjudicator and paymaster is always watching in secret and He will reward you accordingly.