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French President Emmanuel Macron praised Mamoudou Gassama, an undocumented migrant from Mali, for his “exceptional act” at a meeting in the Elysée presidential palace Monday / Photo: Elysée/Twitter

Macron rewards undocumented Malian who rescued child from Paris balcony

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday hailed the young Malian migrant who saved a 4-year-old child hanging from a fourth-floor Paris balcony, saying his act of bravery opened the door to French citizenship.

At a meeting in the Elysée presidential palace Monday, Macron praised Mamoudou Gassama, an undocumented migrant from Mali, for his “exceptional act” and added: “We’re going to regularise all your papers and if you wish, we will initiate a naturalisation procedure so that you can become French, if you so desire.”

Gassama, 22, grabbed headlines across France after a video of his daring rescue of a 4-year-old child hanging from a fourth-floor balcony of a Paris apartment went viral on social media sites.

Noting that Gassama had “become an example” after “millions of people” viewed the rescue video, Macron added that it was “normal that the nation be grateful”.

 

In a Twitter post shortly after the meeting, Macron said the Paris fire brigade “was ready to welcome” Gassama in their ranks – should he wish to apply.

Risking his life to save a child

The rescue took place at around 8:00pm (18:00 GMT) on Saturday in northern Paris.

Film of the rescue shows Gassama, 22, pulling himself up from balcony to balcony with his bare hands as a man on the fourth floor tries to hold on to the child by leaning across from a neighbouring balcony.

On reaching the fourth floor Gassama put one leg over the balcony before reaching out with his right arm and grabbing the child.

Fire-fighters arrived at the scene to find the child had already been rescued.

“Luckily, there was someone who was physically fit and who had the courage to go and get the child,” a fire service spokesman told AFP.

READ ALSO Malian child rescuer joins Paris fire brigade as he awaits French citizenship

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo praised the young migrant on Twitter for his “act of bravery” as well as phoning him personally to “thank him warmly”.

“He explained to me that he had arrived from Mali a few months ago dreaming of building his life here.

“I told him that his heroic act is an example to all citizens and that the city of Paris will obviously be very keen to support him in his efforts to settle in France,” she added.

‘I started to shake’

Tracked down by reporters 24 hours after the heroic rescue, Gassama said he had acted without thinking.

“I saw all these people shouting, and cars sounding their horns. I climbed up like that and, thank God, I saved the child,” he said.

“I felt afraid when I saved the child… (when) we went into the living room, I started to shake, I could hardly stand up, I had to sit down,” he added.

According to initial inquiries by the authorities, the child’s parents were not at home at the time.

The father was later held for questioning by police for having left his child unattended and was due in court later, a judicial source said. The child’s mother was not in Paris at the time.

With FRANCE 24 & AFP

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