Who Is France's Spiderman? A Malian Immigrant Was Granted Citizenship For His Heroism
If you saw a small child hanging from a fourth-floor balcony, what would you do? Calling the fire department might be a reasonable response, but the more heroic way to handle the situation is by climbing up the facade of the building to save the child yourself. This is exactly what happened in Paris, where France's "Spiderman," a Malian immigrant, was granted French citizenship after saving a kid in danger, according to CNN.
According to the Evening Standard, the 22 year-old immigrant from Mali, Mamoudou Gassama, was merely in the neighborhood on the way to watch the Champions League final soccer game on Saturday. When he saw a child hanging from a balcony, though, he made the snap decision that he was going to do something about it — or, at least, that's what he told French President Emmanuel Macron when he met with Macron at the Élysée Palace on Monday.
"I didn't think about it, I climbed up and God helped me," Gassama told Macron, according to CNN. "I like children, I would have hated to see him getting hurt in front of me. I ran and I looked for solutions to save him and thank God I scaled the front of the building to the balcony."
A video taken of the scene shows Gassama climbing up the front of the building, balcony by balcony, hoisting himself up perilously, before reaching the child and lifting him onto the safety of one of the balconies. The stunt looks like something out of a movie, perhaps, or a video from American Ninja Warrior. Except in this case, it was real-life, unplanned and unpracticed, and it ended up with a child's life being saved.
According to The Local, Gassama's story was actually quite typical before he scaled a building and pulled a child out of danger. He traveled from Mali through Burkina-Faso, Nigeria, and Libya, before ending up in Italy, where he received documentation allowing him to stay. According to The New York Times, though, his aim was always to come to France — and now his heroism has helped him to achieve that dream.
Macron, according to The Local, has maintained a strict divide between immigrants fleeing war or persecution and those seeking a better economic situation. Gassama would have fallen into the latter category, before he displayed his almost super-human strength and bravery.
“When they are in danger, we give asylum, but not for economic reasons,” Macron said to Gassama, according to The New York Times. “But in your case, you did something exceptional.”
This act, according to CNN, earned Gassama an offer of French citizenship from Macron and an offer of a job from the Paris fire department. Macron wasn't the only politician congratulating Gassama, either — French Mayor Anne Hidalgo also wrote him a message on Twitter, praising his feat.
“He explained to me that he had arrived from Mali a few months ago dreaming of building his life here,” her message read, according to The Guardian. “I told him that his heroic act is an example to all citizens and that the city of Paris will obviously be very keen to support him in his efforts to settle in France.”
According to The Guardian, it was Hidalgo who coined the nickname that might last Gassama the rest of his life: “Spider-Man of the 18th," referring to district of Paris in which the event took place. According to Buzzfeed, the whole thing took place in less than 40 seconds — but with the offers of both citizenship and a job, it's now changed Gassama's life, potentially forever.