A petition to give a Muslim 24-year-old French nationality after he protected shoppers during an attack in a Paris supermarket proved successful Thursday (Jan. 15), as Lassana Bathily's request for citizenship was fast-tracked.
Bathily was initially pegged as an accomplice of gunman Amedy Coulibaly, another Malian from France, but it was actually Bathily who hid several shoppers in the freezer of the Jewish supermarket where he worked during a deadly hostage situation, according to Reuters.
"Following the acts of bravery by Mr Bathily during the hostage taking in the Hyper Casher market on Jan. 9, the Interior Ministry has fast-tracked (his) request for citizenship," the Interior Ministry said in a statement, according to the publication.
Giving Bathily citizenship is one small step in what's sure to be a massive rebuilding of trust between France and its Muslim citizens, a rift that was deepened last week after 17 people were killed in a reign of violence that started with a slew of murders at satirical paper Charlie Hebdo.
France has a community of 5 million Muslims, according to the Wall Street Journal, and they have been under attack since suspected gunmen Said Kouachi and Chérif Kouachi, purported jihadists, killed 12 at the newspaper offices to avenge Muhammad, whom the paper often mocked. The brothers were killed by police after the attacks -- and were allegedly working with Coulibaly, who killed four in his supermarket raid before being shot by police. Coulibaly also allegedly shot a policewoman before attacking the grocery.