reposted from guardian
A man who hid a group of shoppers, one with a baby, in a basement cold storage room at the Hyper Cacher supermarket to shield them from the gunman has been hailed a hero.
Lassana Bathily, 24, a Muslim shop assistant originally from Mali, in west Africa, was praised for risking his own life to save those led to safety.
“When they came running down I opened the door of the fridge,” he told French TV. “Several came in with me. I turned off the light and the fridge. When I turned off the cold, I put them in. I closed the door. I told them to stay calm and I said ‘you stay quiet there, I’m going back out’.”
Police originally thought Bathily was a conspirator when he managed to escape through a goods lift. “They told me, ‘get down on the ground, hands over your head’. They cuffed me and held me for an hour and a half as if I was with them,” he added. Once freed he was able to give them details of the layout of the store and where people were hiding.
After the shootout he said that many of the customers he had helped came out and shook his hand. “When they got out, they thanked me,” he said.
Several people took to social media to call for him to be officially recognised for his bravery as news of his actions spread. One tweet said: “A true hero of the hostage crisis in the kosher grocery store yesterday.’
Another read “Lassana Bathily, Muslim worker at Paris kosher shop, hid people, incl. baby.” A photograph of Bathily, labelled Malian Muslim, has been retweeted around the world as a symbol of the good of some people in the face of terrorism.
One of those trapped in the cold store Johan Dorre, 36, a father of four, was able to call his uncle and say he was trapped two floors below the ground floor. Another uncle, Jacob Katorza, said: “Johan and the others were terrified that they would be discovered by the terrorists and were forced to huddle together like frightened animals to avoid hypothermia.”