A 24-year-old Muslim man has come out as a hero after he saved the lives of Jewish shoppers in a kosher marketplace in Paris.
Lassana Bathily was working as a clerk in the market when terrorist Ahmed Coulibaly burst in the store in the Porte de Vincennes neighborhood and took the place hostage by threatening to kill everyone if the authorities took any action against the suspects of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Cherif and Said Kouachi.
As Coulibaly started to shoot indiscriminately, the panic-stricken people rushed towards the basement. Here, the quick-thinking Bathily had a brilliant idea that ended up saving the lives of more than 15 shoppers. He led the customers to giant walk-in freezer, turned off the refrigerator, switched off the light and shut its doors.
"Stay calm here. I’m going out," the 24-year-old instructed before leaving the 15 people in the freezer.
Bathily then went out where he was mistaken as a terrorist and cuffed by the police. Later however, Bathily helped police understand the floor plan of the store as they planned to take on the gunman.
The refrigerator refugees were rescued when the police stormed the store and killed Coulibaly.
The police were grateful to Bathily for his act of bravery in the times of fear and violence.
"When they got out, they congratulated me," Bathily told local station BFMTV. "They said, 'Honestly, thank you for having thought of that,' and I said, 'You're welcome. It's nothing, that's life.'"
After his courageous deed, Bathily is being hailed as a hero on Twitter where he has been called "mensch," a Yiddish word meaning "man of honor and integrity."
Lassana Bathily: Muslim. Malian. Mensch. pic.twitter.com/CUmaUhpgHd Refreshing to see essential human goodness in midst of tragedy— Matthew Ocko (@mattocko) January 11, 2015
Respect Lassana Bathily. A true hero of the hostage crisis in the kosher grocery store. #Paris— TANUJ GARG (@tanuj_garg) January 11, 2015
Watch Lassana Bathily's interview (in French):