African man saves boy dangling from Paris balcony, awarded French citizenship for his heroism

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BY DUMEBI ONYEMAECHI

Incredible footage has emerged of the moment a man scaled four storeys up a building in Paris to rescue a young boy dangling from a balcony.

The whole rescue was filmed and posted to social media, with people calling the 22-year-old rescuer a real spider-man, and his feats earning him a medal for bravery and French citizenship.

Mamoudou Gassama said he saw the child after onlookers were shouting, and leapt into action immediately.

“I did it because it was a child,” the Le Parisien newspaper quoted him saying.

“I climbed … thank God I saved him.”

Mr Gassama reached the boy within minutes, prompting a loud cheer from the crowd below.

According to the French news station La Chaîne Info, the child had been left alone while his father went shopping.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo praised the heroism of the Malian immigrant, saying the city would support his effort to settle in France.

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

Ms Hidalgo said Mr 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,” Ms Hidalgo said.

Now Mr Gassama, who Ms Hidalgo dubbed the “Spiderman of the 18th”, has been awarded a fast-tracked French citizenship in light of his heroism.

French minister and former government spokesman Christophe Castaner also took to Twitter to say how admirable it was that Mr Gassama stepped forward to save a life without giving any thought for his own.

Hero meets with French president, lauded for ‘exceptional act’

Mr Gassama has met with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Presidential Palace, with Mr Macron wanting to thank him personally.

“Bravo,” Mr Macron said to Mr Gassama during a one-on-one meeting in a gilded room of the Elysee Palace that ended with the awarding of a medal from the prefecture for “courage and devotion.”

Mr Gassama, dressed in blue jeans and white shirt, recounted his experience when he and friends saw a young child hanging from a fifth-floor balcony.

“I ran. I crossed the street to save him,” he told Mr Macron during a filmed portion of the meeting. He said he didn’t think twice.

“When I started to climb, it gave me courage to keep climbing.”

God “helped me,” too, he said. “Thank God I saved him.”

Mr Gassama felt fear when he took the child into the apartment. “I was trembling,” he told Mr Macron.

“Because this is an exceptional act … we are obviously, today, going to regularise all your papers, and if you wish we will start nationalisation procedures so you can become French,” Mr Macron said.

Mr Gassama told Mr Macron that he arrived in Italy in 2014 after more than a year in Libya, where he was arrested and beaten, “but I wasn’t discouraged.”

The French President is toughening the nation’s approach to immigration, and stressed that not all who make the treacherous journey to Europe can be welcomed, but that Mr Gassama’s actions were admirable.

“You saved a child. Without you, no one knows what would have become of him,” the President said. “You need courage and the capability to do that.”

Working as a firefighter corresponds with his skills, Mr Macron said, and opened the door for him to join.

“You have become an example because millions have seen you” on social media, the president said. Source ABC/wires

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