Lassana Bathily, a Malian immigrant living in France, saved several Jewish shoppers - including a baby - during a terrorist attack at the kosher market where he worked.
On Friday January 9, 2015, Islamist terrorists attacked several targets in Paris, killing 17 people and plunging Europe into fear. One of the targets was Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket, where Jews were picking up last-minute items before the start of Shabbat.
Lassana was in the basement, unpacking frozen items, when he heard gunfire upstairs and saw a dozen panicked shoppers fleeing down the stairs. Thinking quickly, Lassana ushered the shoppers into the basement meat freezer, making sure to turn the motor off first. He then escaped via elevator and fire escape. Lassana helped police to sketch out the layout of the shop and prepare their raid. A few hours later, police (finally!) stormed the market and killed the terrorist.
After the attacks, Lassana Bathily was hailed as a national hero, but he insisted he did what anybody would have done. He was deeply traumatized by the experience, especially since his close friend and coworker Yohan Cohen, one of the shoppers upstairs, was shot by the terrorist and bled to death slowly waiting for the police to arrive.
Lassana is now studying and pursuing his dream to become a teacher. “I just continue to live, I continue to do what I did before,” he said. “We must show solidarity, we must stay united. There is hope.”
For keeping calm in a crisis and saving multiple lives, we honor Lassana Bathily as this week’s Thursday Hero.