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Paris - Muslim Man Hailed For Life-Saving Courage During Paris Siege

Published on: January 11, 2015 12:00 PM
By: AP
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Lassana BathilyLassana Bathily

Paris -  At a kosher supermarket in Paris, a quick-thinking Muslim employee hides several Jewish shoppers in the basement before sneaking out to brief police on the hostage-taker upstairs. In the town of Dammartin-en-Goele, a poker-faced businessman fools a pair of gunmen into believing they’re alone in the building before being allowed to leave unharmed.

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 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.

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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.

Witnesses and authorities have corroborated Bathily’s account.

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk on the record, explained that the key Bathily gave police allowed them to storm the supermarket without having to punch their way through the shutters.

About 40 kilometers (25 miles) to the northeast, another hostage’s cool head helped keep a bad day from getting worse. Businessman Michel Catalano was waiting on a supplier at his office in Dammartin-en-Goele when he saw brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi approaching with Kalashnikov rifles. As his colleague, a 26-year-old he identified only as Lilian, ran to hide, he distracted the gunmen. He offered them coffee and — after a brief exchange of fire with authorities outside — bandaged one of the brother’s necks.

FILE - This is a Friday Jan. 9, 2015  file photo of police officers as they storm the kosher market where a gunman held several hostages, in Paris. The assault came moments after a similar raid on the building where two brothers suspected in the Charlie Hebdo newspaper massacre were cornered. At the kosher supermarket in Paris, a quick-thinking Muslim employee hides several Jewish shoppers in the basement before sneaking out to brief police on the hostage-taker upstairs. (AP Photo/Francois Mori,File)FILE - This is a Friday Jan. 9, 2015 file photo of police officers as they storm the kosher market where a gunman held several hostages, in Paris. The assault came moments after a similar raid on the building where two brothers suspected in the Charlie Hebdo newspaper massacre were cornered. At the kosher supermarket in Paris, a quick-thinking Muslim employee hides several Jewish shoppers in the basement before sneaking out to brief police on the hostage-taker upstairs. (AP Photo/Francois Mori,File)

“I stayed an hour with them,” Catalano told AP. “I was never scared, because I had only one idea in my head: ‘They should not go to the end (of the hallway) to see Lilian, that’s all.’ That’s what kept me calm.”

Eventually, Catalano was released by the hostage-takers as police swapped text messages with Lilian inside. Just before dusk, the brothers ran outside, guns blazing. They died in a hail of return fire.

Back at the kosher supermarket, police used Bathily’s key to mount their assault, killing Coulibaly and freeing 15 hostages.

Amid the bravery, there was also tragedy.

Police found four hostages dead inside the supermarket, apparently shot by Coulibaly when he entered the store.

Among them was Yohan Cohen, a 22-year-old who Amine said was “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.”

FILE - This is a Friday, Jan. 9, 2015 file photo of a security officer directs released hostages after they stormed a kosher market to end a hostage situation, Paris. Explosions and gunshots were heard as police forces stormed a kosher grocery in Paris where a gunman was holding at least five people hostage. At the kosher supermarket in Paris, a quick-thinking Muslim employee hides several Jewish shoppers in the basement before sneaking out to brief police on the hostage-taker upstairs. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)FILE - This is a Friday, Jan. 9, 2015 file photo of a security officer directs released hostages after they stormed a kosher market to end a hostage situation, Paris. Explosions and gunshots were heard as police forces stormed a kosher grocery in Paris where a gunman was holding at least five people hostage. At the kosher supermarket in Paris, a quick-thinking Muslim employee hides several Jewish shoppers in the basement before sneaking out to brief police on the hostage-taker upstairs. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)


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Read Comments (6)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jan 11, 2015 at 12:03 PM OyGevald Says:

He's toast. The true moslems will assasinate him.

2

 Jan 11, 2015 at 12:11 PM A Lesson for us all to have Tolerance for others Says:

We have to reflect & stop our own religious intolerance

It’s perfectly OK for different Yidden to have different opinions (throughout history different Yidden had different opinions and matters of Torah) but we cross the line once we start to try to use force of any kind and sanctions against each other, if the other disagrees with us

Live & Let Live!

We cross the line when we use all kinds of sanctions, bad mouthing and other forms of extremism against anyone who uses the Internet, against anyone who uses a Shiite that is longer than they type we approve of or against anyone who hold of this Rebbe or someone who holds of the opposing Rebbe of the same group or trying to take power and control over a Chassidus movement, or when the so called “Vaad Hatznius” uses violence against those who disagree with them, or when we put in Cherem and curse anyone who supports women in Israeli Elections or when we take each other to court instead of going to Din Torah or when we use Jihad type of tactics, yelling from the rooftops to burn the books of the Rambam or iPhone’s, burn Shaitels and Pasel Leidus anyone who uses Internet and other such similar forms of Fundamentalist Extremism

3

 Jan 11, 2015 at 12:27 PM Mazal1 Says:

This proves only the radicals are too blames

4

 Jan 11, 2015 at 02:48 PM Crazykanoiy Says:

Thanks for posting this. It is important to stay level headed at times like this. It is important to remember that many Muslims are peaceful and caring people.

5

 Jan 11, 2015 at 03:50 PM Anonymous Says:

He should get 24/7 protection!! Gifts!! Arabs are gonna look for him now!!

6

 Jan 11, 2015 at 04:49 PM monishmo Says:

lassana is a true hero!! we must agree and let him know that. unfortunately we don't know who are the good ones so we judge them all alike but he proved to be a coragous human being. Thank you Lassana

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