PARIS (Reuters) – France offered citizenship to an illegal immigrant from Mali on Monday, who has climbed the façade of a Parisian block of flats to rescue a boy who was about to fall from a fourth-floor balcony, President Emmanuel said Macron.
The video shows Mamoudou Gassama, 22, risking his life on Sunday as he climbs the balconies to save the four-year-old clinging to a railing and looking down on the floor while horrified onlookers watch.
The video became viral and Gassama, nicknamed "Spider-Man" because he had reached the boy at the last moment, was quickly granted a meeting at the Elysée Palace.
"I did it because it was a kid," quotes French newspaper Le Parisien Gassama. "I climbed … Thank God I saved him."
Macron congratulated Gassama on an "extraordinary act" and said France would give him a job in ambulance.
"We will, of course, clarify all your records, and if you wish, we will start the process of naturalization so that you can become French," he added.
The ministers said the process of citizenship is accelerating, although Gassama can not be legally granted immediately.
As in other parts of Europe, immigration from Africa and the Middle East has in recent years fixed public opinion in France and pushed for the rise of far-right parties such as the National Front.
Macron, who had been criticized by leftist voters for having taken a tougher stance on immigration since his election, might also have tried to send a message to socialist voters by signaling a more welcome attitude towards a deserving migrants ,
Gassama told Macron that in March 201
Europe has been facing a migration crisis in 2015 after wars in Libya and Syria and more than 1 million people from Africa and the Middle East have tried to reach the continent via Turkey or by sea.
Macron's government has said that she wants to be both firm and fair in immigration, but she has recently taken a tougher stance when Parliament approved a bill that would tighten asylum rules.
"What you have done is what firefighters do, and if so, you can join the Fire Department so that you can take such action on a daily basis," he said.
Adam Thiam, a Malaysian analyst and former presidential adviser, told Reuters that Gassama's act had been praised in his homeland.
"Here in Mali is great pride," said Thiam. "But while (Gassama) receives the honors, there are … Malian citizens under threat of being expelled from the French government."
Gassama told the Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo on Sunday when he arrived from Mali a few months ago and wanted to stay in France.
"I replied that his heroic gesture was an example to all citizens, and that the city of Paris was obviously interested in helping him in his efforts to settle in France," Hidalgo said.
The boy's father was arrested and told the police that he had left his son alone to go shopping and came home later than planned because he had Pokémon Go, a game of augmented realities, on his Smartphone have played.
"His behavior is a criminal offense, failed to honor the parental duties, which includes a possible imprisonment of two years," said Molins.
Gassama is offered a civilian service at the rescue services in Paris. An official website says the plant pays about $ 480 ($ 558) a month for a fixed 11-month period.
Reporting by Bate Felix, Michel Rose; Marine Pennetier, Julie Carriat in Paris, Sofia Christensen in Dakar; Writing by Mathieu Rosemain and Brian Love; Adaptation by Matthew Mpoke Bigg