Undocumented immigrant who saved toddler is French national hero
Undocumented immigrant who saved toddler is French national hero
Daring man scales building to rescue dangling child
31 May, 2018, 18:34
Gassama - christened "Spider-Man" on French social media - has emerged as an overnight celebrity after rescuing the child Saturday night, at a moment when life is becoming increasingly hard for immigrants in France.
At the French migrant workers' hostel where "Spiderman" Mamoudou Gassama was sleeping on a floor before becoming a folk hero for saving a child, his exploits have triggered a wave of pride tinged with envy.
The incident took place in Paris.
This week television crews swarmed the centre in the eastern Paris suburb of Montreuil to find out more about the 22-year-old Malian who was captured on video scaling an apartment block to bring a child hanging from a balcony to safety.
"He took a long time to return home because he chose to play Pokemon Go when he left the store", Mr Molins said, adding that the father was "devastated because he realises what he did, and the tragic consequences that it could have led to".
He was glued to the television on Monday as footage of Mamoudou meeting Macron in the gilded settings of the Elysee Palace was being played on a loop. The twist came as the unnamed child's father was threatened with two years in prison.
Speaking to BFM TV shortly after the rescue, he explained that he had been in the neighborhood to watch a football match when he saw the crowd gathering.
According to Molins, the toddler was being looked after by his father in Paris while his mother was living on Reunion Island, a French-administered territory in the Indian Ocean.
"Congratulations to Mamoudou Gassama for his act of bravery that saved the life of a child", Hidalgo said on her official Twitter account, adding that she spoke with him by phone to thank him.
Gassama's actions have impressed many of Paris's citizens, including President Macron. I didn't think about the floors.
As elsewhere in Europe, immigration from Africa and the Middle East has fixated French public opinion in the last few years, fuelling the rise of far-right parties such as the National Front. "I climbed up like that and, thank God, I saved the child", he was reported to have said.
The father of the 4-year-old boy who was rescued while dangling from a balcony in Paris was playing Pokémon Go at the time, prosecutors say.
But Gassama's "exceptional act of heroism" warranted an "exceptional decision", he said Monday.
Since then he has earned the praise of dignitaries including the Mayor of Paris and the French Prime Minister. I told him that in recognition of his heroic act he would have his papers in order as quickly as possible and that the Paris fire brigade would be keen to welcome him to their ranks.
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