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“Le Spiderman” will be made a French citizen after heroically rescuing a dangling child

"I told him that in recognition of this act of heroism he would be regularized as soon as possible and that the Paris fire brigade was ready to welcome him."

by David Gilbert
May 28 2018, 3:56pm

Screen grab.

An undocumented migrant, who climbed four storeys to rescue a child hanging from a Paris apartment building, was made an honorary French citizen Monday by President Emmanuel Macron.

Dubbed “Le Spiderman,” Mamoudou Gassama gained overnight fame when video footage of him climbing up the outside of an apartment building in Paris, went viral.

The act of bravery has been viewed tens of millions of times on social media, prompting a petition to have Gassama naturalized. “He who saves a life, saves all humanity,” the petition read.

The incident happened at 8 p.m. Saturday evening and by Monday morning Gassama, who is originally from Mali, was in the Elysee Palace meeting Macron. The president announced soon after that “all the papers will be put in order" to make Gassama a French citizen and he would be enrolled as a firefighter in the Paris fire service.

"With Mr. Gassama who saved the life of a child after scaling four floors with his bare hands. I told him that in recognition of this act of heroism he would be regularized as soon as possible and that the Paris fire brigade was ready to welcome him."

In an interview with BFMTV, Gassama said when he saw the child dangling, “I did not think, I saved him.”

"When I took him in my arms, I spoke with him and asked: 'Why did you do that?' But he did not answer," Gassama said.

He also spoke about his journey to get to France in 2013, which took him from Mali, through Burkina Faso, Niger, and Libya, before crossing of the Mediterranean to the Italian coast.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo also praised his bravery, labeling Gassama the “Spiderman of the 18th” referring to the district in northern Paris when the daring rescue took place.

It is unclear how the boy ended up dangling from the balcony of the apartment building, but French media reports that his parents were not home at the time. The boy’s father was taken into custody for questioning about leaving his child unattended. The boy’s mother was not in Paris at the time of the incident.

This is not the first time an act of bravery by a Mali immigrant in Paris has been rewarded. In January 2015, during an extremist attack on a Paris supermarket, Lassana Bathily led six customers — including a baby — to safety before alerting the police to the attack.

A week later Bathily was given a French passport and a medal by then-President Francois Hollande. The Malian had been trying to secure permanent residency in France for six years.

Cover image: A screen grab from the video posted by @FredBC77 showing Mamoudou Gassama scaling the apartment block.

This article originally appeared on VICE News US.

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