Published On: Sun, Jun 14th, 2015

Lassana Bathily, Savior Of Paris Jews, Honored by New York Mayor de Blasio

He also received the AJC Moral Courage Award.


Lassana Bathily

Lassana Bathily, the Paris kosher supermarket employee who risked his own life to save 15 Jews during a deadly terrorist attack in January, was honored by the Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasi on on Friday. He was also awarded the AJC Moral Courage Award.

He was flown to NY at the expense of the The NYPD Muslim Officers Society flew and will be honored at their Annual Scholarship Dinner.

“What I did was place people out of danger and ensure their safety—something everybody can do when they find themselves in such an extreme situation, ” said Bathily, a Muslim immigrant from Mali who worked at Hyper Cacher. “If it were to happen again tomorrow, I would do exactly the same thing because, for me, this is a normal and humane response.”

The mayor told Bathily, “We are so blessed to have you with us.”

AJC Paris Chair René-Pierre Azria, who, together with Alexis Azria, presented the award to Bathily, said: “You are a paragon of moral courage, an exemplar of European values. When one man sought to pervert your faith, to demand the death of adherents of another faith, you stood up and fought for the lives of those around you.”

The attack was deliberately planned by a jihadist terrorist for a Friday afternoon, when the market would be full of customers preparing for Shabbat. Four Jews — Yohan Cohen, Yoav Hattab, Phillipe Barham, and François-Michel Saada — were shot dead. The attack came two days after the murderous attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine office, and a day after a policewoman was killed in the wave of terrorist attacks.

Bathily, meanwhile, led 15 people to the market’s cold storage room where they could hide. He then escaped and provided the police vital details on the store’s layout and a key to unlock the supermarket’s metal blinds. Bathily’s actions were critical in helping police end the siege, kill the terrorist, and free the hostages.

Bathily, who has lived in France since 2006, was widely praised for his valiant heroism during the terror attack, and soon afterward was granted French citizenship. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve praised Bathily’s actions as “the highest gesture of Islam and peace.”

“In this world, everyone bears responsibility and must do his best for the good of all, ” said Bathily in accepting the AJC award. “Governments must also shoulder their responsibilities to act for the good of their people, and to put an end to corruption or anything else that can weaken the establishment and stability of democracy.”

“The best answer we can give to terrorism and barbarism, ” he said, is “education for all, peace building, promotion of human rights, and the spirit of freedom, brotherhood, and equality.”

The Moral Courage Award was presented to Bathily during the World Leaders Plenary, following addresses by Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, German Chancellor Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Abe, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Mitov, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Israeli Minister of Energy, National Infrastructure, and Water Steinitz

“The rabbis teach that one who saves a single life, it is as though he has saved an entire world, for every generation contains within it the potential for countless generations to come, ” said the Azrias. “Lassana, you saved 15 worlds that day in Paris. In doing so, you made this world, our world, a brighter, more hopeful, more humane world.”

Bathily is one of three individuals receiving the AJC Moral Courage Award during the AJC Global Forum 2015. The other two are posthumous awards to Dan Uzan, a Jewish volunteer security guard murdered while protecting a Copenhagen synagogue in February; and to Zidan Seef, an Israeli Druze policeman killed while trying to stop a terror attack at a Jerusalem synagogue last November.

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