In the days after the bloody end of twin French hostage crises Friday, stories of life-saving courage are beginning to filter out. One of the most striking is the story of Lassana Bathily, a young [Muslim] immigrant from Mali who literally provided police with the key to ending the hostage crisis at the supermarket.Bathily was in the store’s underground stockroom when gunman Amedy Coulibaly burst in upstairs, according to accounts given to French media and to a friend of Bathily’s who spoke to The Associated Press. Bathily turned off the stockroom’s freezer and hid a group of frightened shoppers inside before sneaking out through a fire escape to speak to police. Initially confused for the attacker, he was forced to the ground and handcuffed.Once police realized their mistake, he provided them with the key they needed to open the supermarket’s metal blinds and mount their assault.
“The guy was so courageous,” said Mohammed Amine, a 33-year-old friend and former coworker of Bathily’s who spoke to him about the assault on Saturday.
Washington Post’s account of the story explains that, after he slipped out, “Bathily spent the next 90 minutes in cuffs before he managed to convince authorities he was who he said he was. He told the cops he wasn’t alone. There were more than a dozen other hostages locked inside the store’s freezer.”
Apparently Bathily’s quick thinking and acts of courage at the kosher supermarket where he worked saved the lives of at least seven Jews at the store, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu who cited him over the weekend.
One who didn’t make it, who was killed when Coulibaly entered the market, was 22-year old Yohan Cohen, who Bathily’s friend Amine described to AP as “someone amazing, friendly, who likes (and) who respects people.”
“I’m Muslim and he’s Jewish,” said Amine, an immigrant from Morocco. “But there’s such respect between us. We’re like brothers. They took my best friend.”
Seems like that’s all worth mentioning here.