‘Spider-Man’ is now a legal resident of France.
Mamoudou Gassama, a 22-year-old Malian, became the most famous undocumented immigrant in France after footage of his rescue of a child hanging from the balcony of a fourth-floor apartment went viral.
The climb earned the young man the nickname “Le Spider-Man,” but it also drew attention to his immigration status.
Instead of being detained or deported, however, Gassama was invited to meet France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, and granted papers allowing him to remain in France. He also was promised a fast-track to French citizenship as well as a job with Paris’ fire and emergency service.
Accustomed to keeping his head down and staying out of trouble, Gassama said he didn’t think of his legal status when he sprang to action.
“There were people shouting and honking their horns … I didn’t think of anything, I ran across the road directly to save him,” he told The Guardian. “Thank God I saved him.”
Macron gave Gassama a medal and certificate honoring his act of “bravery and devotion.”
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said city officials also would ensure Gassama can remain safely in the nation’s capital.
“Congratulations to Mamoudou Gassama for his act of bravery that saved the life of a child,” the mayor tweeted. “He explained to me that he had arrived from Mali a few months ago dreaming of building his life here.”
The father of the rescued child was arrested by Paris police and is being questioned about leaving his son unattended. The child’s mother was out of the country at the time of the incident. The boy is now in the custody of protective services.
Lassana Bathily, a Malian immigrant and Muslim, also was granted French citizenship in 2015 after an act of heroism. Bathily helped several customers hide in a freezer in the basement of a Jewish supermarket after a terrorist gunman opened fire inside the Paris shop in 2014.
By Brooks Hays