Lest all Muslims get lumped together as terrorists (oh yeah, that already happened), it should be noted that Lassana Bathily (pictured)—a Muslim working at a Kosher grocery that was attacked—saved up to 15 lives when he hid them in a freezer as a gunman stormed his workplace on Friday.
According to the Huffington Post, Amedy Coulibaly burst into the Hyper Cacher grocery store and opened fire, immediately killing four people. Coulibaly then took several shoppers hostage and threatened to kill them if police did not stand down against Cherif and Said Kouachi, who killed 12 people in the attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday. The Kouachi brothers were in a standoff with police in a village to the north.
It it likely that the situation would have been even more grim situation if it weren’t for Bathily. Says Huff Po:
Bathily, identified by French media as a “Malian Muslim,” helped several customers to safety as the chaos unfolded. “I went down to the freezer, I opened the door, there were several people who went in with me. I turned off the light and the freezer,” Bathily, 24, told French network BFMTV. “I brought them inside and I told them to stay calm here, I’m going to go out. When they got out, they thanked me.”
Not surprisingly, French police thought Bathily was one of the terrorists when they initially encountered him. He was held for an hour and a half before again assisting, giving police the floor plan which helped them to storm the grocery.
“They told me, get down on the ground, hands over your head,” he told BFMTV, as reported by HuffPo. “They cuffed me and held me for an hour and a half as if I was with them.”
Police raided the supermarket and the printing shop simultaneously, killing the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly, says Huff Po. A fourth suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, who was Coulibaly’s wife, is said to not have taken part in the attacks and is in hiding in Syria, where extradition will be difficult.
In addition to saying “I am Charlie,” whose work could be quite racist, frankly, we should all be shouting “I am Lassana,” who proved that humanity trumps race, religion and ethnicity.