France offers citizenship to Malian immigrant who rescued child

Molins said that the boy who was in danger in the apartment was being looked after by his father while the mother was Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. He was an undocumented immigrant, and French authorities had the power to grant him citizenship in exceptional cases.

The father of the boy faces two years in prison.

Mr Gassama, who only arrived in France a year ago, told the French President he had been walking past when he saw a crowd gathered in front of the building.

"I climbed up to save him, voila", Gassama said.

The child lived on the sixth floor and had fallen out of an apartment window, but somehow managed to grab hold of the front ledge of the balcony below.

"We'll obviously be setting all your papers straight and if you wish it, we will start the process of naturalisation so that you can become French", President Emmanuel Macron told him.

"I did not think twice".

It showed a young boy gripping to a fourth floor balcony while a man on the same level reached out to try to secure him. "The neighbour couldn't reach the child himself". A Malian man saved a 4-year-old child suspended from a balcony.

Reacting to his awards he said later: "I'm pleased because it's the first time I've received a trophy like that". Florian said he was encouraging the child to edge closer to him.

Earlier, he told CNN, "I like children".

Macron is behind a bill toughening French immigration law, and he stressed there is no contradiction between rewarding Gassama for his act of bravery and holding firm on immigration, which the president wants to stop at its source.

On his arrival in France in September 2017 after travelling the Mediterranean migrant route, Gassama was given a mattress on the floor in a room occupied by his 54-year-old brother Birama and three relatives from his home village of Yaguine in western Mali. "Those who are at sea, may god help them arrive safely", Gassama told VOA.

She referred to him as the "Spiderman of the 18th", referring to the Paris district where the rescue took place.

Presenting his decision to naturalise Gassama as an "exceptional" move to honour an "exceptional act" he warned: "We can not give (papers) to all those who come from Mali or Burkina Faso" - two countries from where thousands set out each year across the Mediterranean to Europe.

  • Rogelio Becker