- A Malian migrant hailed as a hero after mounting a daring rescue to save a small boy dangling from a balcony in Paris is to be made a French citizen
- Mr. Mamoudou Gassama won widespread praise after saving the four-year-old
A Mali immigrant who scaled a Paris apartment building to save a child dangling from a balcony will be awarded for his bravery with papers to legalise his stay and a job as a firefighter.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that 22-year-old Mamoudou Gassama will be awarded for his “exceptional act” with legal papers, citizenship if he wants it and a job with the fire service.
"Bravo," Mr Macron said to Mr Gassama during a one-on-one meeting in a gilded room of the presidential Elysee Palace that ended with the awarding of a medal from the prefecture for "courage and devotion".
Mr Gassama's has been dubbed "Spider-Man" for climbing up five floors, from balcony to balcony, and whisking a four-year-old boy to safety on Saturday night as a crowd screamed at the foot of the building in Paris' northern 18th district.
The astonishing footage of Mr Gassama scaling the building and rescuing the child in just 30 seconds has been shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media.
The young man said he has papers to legally stay in Italy, where he arrived in Europe after crossing the Mediterranean after a long, rough stay in Libya.
However, he wants to join his older brother, who has lived in France for decades.
Mr Gassama, dressed in blue jeans and white shirt, recounted his experience which took place at around 8pm on Saturday when he and friends saw a young child hanging from a fifth-floor balcony. He and his friends had been on the way to watch the Champions League final.
"I ran. I crossed the street to save him," he told Mr Macron during a filmed portion of the meeting.
He said he did not think twice, adding: "When I started to climb, it gave me courage to keep climbing."
God "helped me" too, he said. "Thank God I saved him."
Mr Gassama felt fear when he took the child into the apartment.
"I was trembling," he told Mr Macron.
"Because this is an exceptional act... we are obviously, today, going to regularise all your papers," Mr Macron told him, "and if you wish we will start nationalisation procedures so you can become French."
Mr Gassama told Mr Macron that he arrived in Italy in 2014 after more than a year in Libya, where he was arrested and beaten, "but I wasn't discouraged".
The French president is toughening the nation's approach to immigration, and stressed that not all who make the treacherous journey to Europe can be welcomed, but that Mr Gassama's actions were admirable.
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