Mamoudou Gassama, a Parisian migrant from the Muslim country of Mali, has made headlines this week with his heroic act. Mamoudou was quick to act when he witnessed a 4 year-old child dangling dangerously from a 4th floor balcony, in Paris’s 18th Arrondissement. In a video that has now been viewed more than 2,000,000 times on social media, Mamoudou can be seen climbing the building rapidly, as onlookers cheer him on – it plays like a scene from a movie. It is believed the toddler had been left unattended, before putting himself in the incredibly dangerous position. Both the child and Mamoudou were treated for shock; unsurprising given the events that unfolded.
When interviewed by French Broadcasters about the incident, he said, “I saw all these people shouting, and cars sounding their horns. I climbed up like that and, thank God, I saved the child…when I took him in my arms, I spoke with him and asked: ‘Why did you do that?’ But he did not answer.’”
Mamoudou explained that once the child had been saved, the shock of what had just occurred hit him, “I felt afraid when I saved the child … [when] we went into the living room, I started to shake, I could hardly stand up, I had to sit down,”.
A spokesman for the Parisian fire service, who were called out to the incident but were beaten to the save by Mamoudou, commented that “Luckily, there was someone who was physically fit and who had the courage to go and get the child,”. Take a look at the video and you will see that climbing 4 stories is no easy feat, particularly at the speed at which Mamoudou was able to do it.
Mamoudou, which is the West African derivative of the name Muhammad, has been called the “Spiderman of the 18th“, by Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo. While this title holds little sway, what is of greater significance is Mamoudou being given French citizenship as a result of his heroism. He was personally received by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée Palace on Monday, in a ceremony in honour of his bravery; President Macron also offered the young man a job within the fire service, as well as his new citizenship.
— •NubiΔΠ• (@Adil__Brown) May 27, 2018
This incident is somewhat reminiscent of the heroics of another Malian man, Lassana Bathily, who in 2015 received French citizenship after rescuing hostages during a terrorist attack on Parisian Kosher supermarket. While the heroics of these men should be applauded, and their examples held up for all to see, it seems important to note that these outstanding acts of heroism are not what make an individual worthy of citizenship and refuge. The right to settle in a safe country, and the right to employment, are fundamental human rights that should be accessible to all, not only the exceptionally brave and heroic amongst us.