Saturday in Paris, a 22-year-old migrant from Mali scaled hand over hand from one balcony to another until reaching 4th floor in order to rescue a 4-year-old boy suspending from a balcony.
Before the rescue workers arrived, he successfully helped the poor boy out of danger with the encouragement from the crowds. After this “rescue operation,” some French people have started to call him “Spider-Man of the 18th,”which was the arrondissement of Paris where the episode unfolded. Onlookers’ video has been shared widely on social media; however, this act of individual courage and empathy began to play into Europe’s fraught and debate about outsiders, immigrants and refugees.
This brave young man, identified as Mamoudou Gassama, left Mali and arrived at France last September. Mali is an unstable former colony of France in northwest Africa. He journeyed through North Africa, crossing Mediterranean Sea to Italy and arrived France without application of immigrant document.
He had thought that he would have a hard time finding a job, settling down and obtaining resident permit in France, a country with increasingly tight immigration rules and a generally suspicious attitude toward migrants. Nonetheless, after his heroic act, Gassama met with President Emmanuel Macron on Monday and was going to get the qualification to legally live in France.
Sitting next to President Macron in front of the camera, Gassama told him about the rescue in casual outfits. “Bravo,” Mr. Macron replied. Moreover, Mr. Macron announced in his statement that the Paris firefighters were “eager to welcome” Mr. Gassama into their ranks, and Macron had “invited” Gassama to apply for French citizenship because “France is built on desire, and Mr. Gassama’s commitment clearly showed that he has that desire.”
According to statistics from the Franch Interior Ministry, only five people were granted resident qualifications for “exceptional talent” or “services rendered to the community” in 2017.
Gassama said he wanted to watch the Champions League soccer final with his girlfriend Saturday evening, but bumped into this accident when coming across a commotion around 8 p.m. during the interview with the news paper Le Parisien. “I saw all these people shouting, and cars sounding their horns,” he said that he didn’t think too much; just wanted to save that poor little boy. It might be hard to imagine for Gassama before he did this act that he could be one of French citizen in less than one year.