Paris shootings: 200,000 sign petition for Muslim hero who hid hostages to get French citizenship and prestigious Legion d'honneur

Lassana Bathily hid hostages in a Jewish supermarket's walk-in refrigerator

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The Independent Online

More than 200,000 people have signed a petition calling for a "hero" of the kosher supermarket siege in Paris to be given French citizenship and the country's highest honour.

The petition calls on President Francois Hollande to grant Lassana Bathily French nationality and the Legion d'honneur for saving 15 lives during the siege last week.

Mr Bathily, a Muslim man originally from Mali in west Africa, reportedly shepherded terrified customers to safety in a switched-off storeroom freezer to avoid gunman Amedy Coulibaly.

Islamist terrorist Coulibaly - the main suspect in the fatal shooting of a policewoman a day earlier in the Parisian suburb of Montrouge - killed four of the 19 hostages before police stormed the building and shot him dead.

Mr Bathily, 24, later escaped through a fire escape to talk to police.

He was praised for his quick-thinking actions since his role in helping customers. Speaking after he escaped the supermarket, he told BFMTV: "When they ran down, I opened the door (from the freezer).

"There are several people who came to me. I turned off the light, I turned off the freezer.

"When I turned off the cold, I put them (hostages) in, I closed the door, I told them to stay calm."

As of Wednesday afternoon it has been signed by more than 220,000 people, with a target of 200,000.

Additional reporting by PA