Lauded as hero in Paris attack, Malian man made French citizen

January 20, 2015 22:14

PARIS - The Malian grocery worker hailed as a hero for saving hostages' lives when an Islamist militant attacked a kosher supermarket in Paris this month was made a French citizen on Tuesday.

Lassana Bathily, 24, was joined by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Prime Minister Manuel Valls in a packed naturalization ceremony.

"I am so happy to get dual nationality," said a smiling Bathily, who also received a medal for his actions. "Long live freedom, long live solidarity, long live France."

Bathily, who arrived in France from Mali in 2006 and received his working papers five years later, has been credited with saving many lives in the Jan. 9 attack that killed four people at the kosher store in eastern Paris. Previous militant attacks that week killed 13 others, most of them at the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper.

Hailed by Cazeneuve and Valls as a model of decency and Republican values, Bathily tried for years to obtain French nationality and was even turned down in 2011 before he was handed his passport by Valls.

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