A video of an undocumented Malian immigrant named Mamoudou Gassama in Paris which has gone viral, shows how he climbed several stories of a building in order to save a 4-year-old child who was clinging to the balcony of his apartment. He has become a celebrity of sorts on social media for his heroics and has been praised by various celebrities and political leaders alike. He has become locally popular as “Spiderman of Paris” .
At the time of the incident, the child’s father had gone for grocery shopping after which he decided to play Pokémon Go. “He took a long time to return home because he had decided to play the smartphone game Pokémon Go when he left the store,” French prosecutor Francois Mollins told ABC News. At the same time, Mamoudou Gassama was going to watch a soccer match on a restaurant television, which is in the neighborhood of that apartment. He saw the child in danger and decided to save his life. Someone took a video, which went viral for obvious reasons and because of this he became a hero on social media.
French President Emmanuel Macron met with him personally and conferred him with a medal of ‘bravery and devotion’ and awarded him honorary French citizenship along with a job in the Fire department. When asked about his mindset during the incident, he said, “There were people shouting and honking their horns … I didn’t think of anything, I ran across the road directly to save him. Thank God I saved him.”
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo twitted, “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.”
Il m'a expliqué être arrivé du Mali il y a quelques mois en rêvant de construire sa vie ici. Je lui ai répondu que son geste héroïque est un exemple pour tous les citoyens et que la Ville de Paris aura évidemment à coeur de le soutenir dans ses démarches pour s'établir en France.
— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) May 27, 2018
Mamoudou Gassama, who hails from Mali, made a risky journey through Sahara desert by travelling across Burkina Faso, Niger and Libya. Finally, he reached Europe by crossing the Mediterranean Sea on a boat to Italy. Like many other illegal immigrants, he was working at a construction site before this incident. Across Europe, illegal immigrants work as rubbish collectors, cleaners, porters, taxi drivers, construction workers, etc. For their survival, they have to do the jobs which nobody wants to do anymore. They have no job security as they are illegal workers and are exploited in terms of low pay.
This incident is especially important in the current era where anti-immigrant rhetoric is prevalent globally. This brave act of Mamoudou Gassama, not only helps in negating the stigmas attached to immigrants of certain ethnicities and countries in general, but also helps in negating the stigmas attached to minority communities.
Image Credit: Thibault Camus (Source: voanews.com)