The shop was busy on a Friday as Jewish customers bought specialties for the Sabbath, which began at sunset that night. But its clientele was as diverse as the neighborhood where it sat: Twenty-five-year-old French Muslim Malik Zadi told The Washington Post that “It’s a kosher store, but not only Jews go there. I go there… In this neighborhood, there are Muslims, Jews, Christians.”
Bathily, a 24-year-old Muslim from Mali, was working in the store in the Porte de Vincennes neighborhood when the Islamist gunman burst in.
As panic ensued, up to 15 customers in the store hurried down to the store basement, when Bathily had an idea.
“When they ran down, I opened the door [to the freezer],” he told France’s BFMTV.
He quickly shut off the freezer and switched off its light. As he closed the door to shelter the customers inside, he told them,“Stay calm here. I’m going out.”
Eventually police raided the market, killing Coulibaly. As the hostages were freed from the freezer, they had a few words of thanks for Bathily. “They congratulated me,” he told BFMTV.
ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BATHILY WAS BEING PRAISED AS A HERO FOR HIS ACTIONS.
France’s Jewish Defense League thanked Lassana Bathilyby name on Twitter, saying he “saved many Jewish lives by hiding them in the cold room,” and using the hashtag“ #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies.”