Friday 17 August 2018

'A real-life spiderman': President Macron makes migrant (22) a French citizen after rescuing small boy dangling from balcony

Mamoudou Gassama, 22, from Mali, leaves the Elysee Palace after his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, in Paris, France, May 28, 2018. Thibault Camus/Pool via Reuters
Mamoudou Gassama, 22, from Mali, is pictured during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 28, 2018. Thibault Camus/Pool via Reuters
Mamoudou Gassama, 22, from Mali, displays a certificate of courage and dedication signed by Paris Police Prefect Michel Delpuech as he leaves the Elysee Palace after his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, in Paris, France, May 28, 2018.Thibault Camus/Pool via Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron (L) meets with Mamoudou Gassama, 22, from Mali, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 28, 2018. Thibault Camus/Pool via Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron (L) meets with Mamoudou Gassama, 22, from Mali, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 28, 2018. Thibault Camus/Pool via Reuters

Denise Calnan and Bate Felix

French President Emmanuel Macron has hailed a Malian migrant a hero for rescuing a small boy dangling from a balcony - and has made the 22-year-old a French citizen.

The video of Mamoudou Gassama's quick climbing to reach the child, cheered on by terrified onlookers, went viral on social media, with people calling the 22-year-old a real spider man.

Gassama was invited to the Elysee presidential palace to meet with President Emmanuel Macron this morning, the mayor of Paris said.

"Congratulations to Mamoudou Gassama for his act of bravery that saved the life of a child," Mayor Anne Hidalgo said on her official Twitter account, adding that she spoke with him by phone to thank him.

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) meets with Mamoudou Gassama, 22, from Mali, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 28, 2018. Thibault Camus/Pool via Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron (L) meets with Mamoudou Gassama, 22, from Mali, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 28, 2018. Thibault Camus/Pool via Reuters

Hidalgo said Gassama told her that he arrived from Mali a few months ago and wished to stay in France.

"I replied that his heroic gesture was an example for all citizens and that the City of Paris will obviously be keen to support him in his efforts to settle in France," Hidalgo said.

Gassama visited the president this morning, who then granted his citizenship. He was also given a medal for courage and told he would be made a fireman.

Le Parisien newspaper reported that Gassama was walking by when he saw a gathering in front of the building and leapt into action.

Mamoudou Gassama, 22, from Mali, displays a certificate of courage and dedication signed by Paris Police Prefect Michel Delpuech as he leaves the Elysee Palace after his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, in Paris, France, May 28, 2018.Thibault Camus/Pool via Reuters
Mamoudou Gassama, 22, from Mali, displays a certificate of courage and dedication signed by Paris Police Prefect Michel Delpuech as he leaves the Elysee Palace after his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, in Paris, France, May 28, 2018.Thibault Camus/Pool via Reuters
Mamoudou Gassama, 22, from Mali, is pictured during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 28, 2018. Thibault Camus/Pool via Reuters

"I did it because it was a child," the paper quoted him saying. "I climbed... Thank God I saved him."

The drama unfolded on Saturday evening on a street in the north of the city.

The video shows him scaling the front of the building in the 18th district to save the small boy.

In less than a minute he pulled himself from balcony to balcony and grabbed the four-year-old as a neighbour tried to hold the child from an adjoining flat.

The Parisian fire service said crews had arrived to find the boy had already been rescued.

"Luckily, there was someone who was physically fit and who had the courage to go and get the child," a spokesman told AFP news agency.

Local authorities quoted by French media reported the boy's parents to not be at home at the time.

The father has been questioned by police on suspicion of leaving his child unattended, sources say.

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