‘French-spiderman’ awarded French citizenship, continues precedent

Mamoudou Gassama, the Parisian who scaled an apartment block to save a child has been awarded French citizenship. He certainly earned it, but there’s a pattern here.



Mamoudou Gassama, the twentysomething made internet famous by scaling four stories to rescue a toddler in Paris has had a rather storied week. After securing a sit-down with French President Emmanuel Macron, it seems that Gassama, an immigrant from Mali, will be awarded French citizenship, and has been offered a job in the Parisian fire brigade.


Avec M. GASSAMA qui a sauvé samedi la vie d’un enfant en escaladant 4 étages à mains nues. Je lui ai annoncé qu’en reconnaissance de cet acte héroïque il allait être régularisé dans les plus brefs délais, et que la brigade des sapeurs-pompiers de Paris était prête à l’accueillir. Je l’ai également invité à déposer une demande de naturalisation. Car la France est une volonté, et M. GASSAMA a démontré avec engagement qu’il l’avait ! – With Mr Gassama who saved a child’s life on Saturday by climbing 4 floors with his bare hands. I told him that in recognition of his heroic act he would have his papers in order as quickly as possible and that the Paris fire brigade would be keen to welcome him to their ranks. I also invited him to submit a naturalization request because France is built on desire and Mr Gassama’s commitment clearly showed that he has that desire!

A post shared by Emmanuel Macron (@emmanuelmacron) on



Speaking in the moments after the rescue, Gassama told CNN: “I like children, I would have hated to see him getting hurt in front of me. I ran and I looked for solutions to save him and thank God I scaled the front of the building to the balcony.”

Yes, it’s a grand act of bravery, but it serves as a greater gesture to greater France. France, and particularly, Paris, is a place split down the theological divide. Particularly after Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan shooting, the landscape of otherism is palpable. Gassama provides a welcome bridge over the chasm of negative assumption.

With that being said, Paris of the recent memory has a rather rich history of immigrant heroism as a moral counterweight.

In 2015, Lassana Bathily was widely praised for concealing customers in a fridge after a gunman attacked a supermarket in eastern Paris. This was directly in the moments after the Hebdo attack, and his actions were welcome. Bathily, a Muslim from Mali was soon granted French citizenship and now works in the Paris City Hall.

So, great congratulations there, but I certainly hope that Gassama and Bathily were not awarded French citizenship just because they earned it. I mean, the question should be asked – would they have been awarded aforesaid papers if they hadn’t? I certainly hope that this isn’t what the uncurrent is – having to perform grand acts of heroism to validate the democratic process.

I hope not.




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