Lassana Bathily, the Paris Kosher Supermarket Hero Comes to the UK with Faith Matters
Lassana Bathily saved many lives on that fateful day on January the 9th 2015. Unbeknown to him as he carried out his shop duties in the Paris Kosher supermarket, the establishment was about to be targeted by a young man who believed that his ‘Jihad’ was to target Jews as they shopped for Shabbath.
Amedy Coulibaly targeted the Paris Kosher supermarket for one reason and one reason alone. He wanted to kill Jews on behalf of the toxic narrative of Daesh or the so-called Islamic State. He was also friends with the two Charlie Hebdo killers and brothers, Said and Cherife Kouachi. The Kouachi brothers had wrought havoc to the streets of Paris through their murderous campaign which targeted satirists within Charlie Hebdo. They had also murdered Paris policeman, Ahmed Merabet.
The Paris Kosher supermarket was targeted after the Charlie Hebdo murders in the heart of Paris that so shocked the nation and which lead to a lockdown in the City. However, on the 9th of January, Amedy Coulibaly, who claimed that he was working on behalf of the so-called Islamic State or Daesh, entered the supermarket. Coulibaly rounded up some of the shoppers and ordered a cashier to bring up others onto the next floor where he had taken the hostages to. Some of those downstairs agreed to go up whilst Bathily advised others to use the goods elevator to escape.
However, the shoppers below did not want to risk an escape as they heard Coulibaly firing his weapon at those shoppers that he had rounded up. At this point, Bathily guided some of the shoppers into a refrigeration room and closed the lights so as to make it look as if there was no-one in there.
Having made his escape through the elevator and a nearby fire escape, police held Bathily for over an hour, thinking that he was one of the terrorists. He was finally released and helped police map out the internal design of the Paris Kosher supermarket. This information was vital in saving lives and led to the end of the siege with Coulibaly being shot dead.
Four people died in the supermarket attack and Bathily also lost a close friend in the terrorist attack. Yohan Cohen died on that fateful day as he tried to save the lives of others and wrestled with the gunman, Amedi Coulibaly. He was murdered in cold blood for his efforts.
Bizarely, Coulibaly was Malian by heritage and Bathily is also of Malian heritage. Two people from the same country, one who sought to take lives because they were Jewish and the other trying to save lives because they were his friends and colleagues. One individual acted in the name of the Islamic State, whilst the other, (Bathily), says that his belief in Islam means that every life is precious. He desperately tried to save lives in the melee of the terrorist attack.
Visit to the UK Facilitated by Faith Matters in Partnership with the Jewish News
Lassana Bathily will be coming to the UK from May 27th to the 1st of June 2016. His visit is being organised and co-ordinated by Faith Matters in partnership with the Jewish News and if you are interested in arranging an event, or a dinner or a working lunch, do get in touch with the Director of Faith Matters, Fiyaz Mughal OBE.
Let us honour this hero and make clear that the actions of murderers and terrorists will not shake our belief that collectively, we can and should protect our freedoms. Only by acting collectively can we stop those groups like IS from trying to drive a wedge between communities. Finally, and more importantly, let us honour those lives lost in the Paris Kosher supermarket on that fateful day. Their memory lives on.
You can e-mail Faith Matters on email@example.com. Correspondence should be marked for Jane Smith.
Faith Matters was founded in 2006 by Fiyaz Mughal OBE on the basis of working with faith communities and to support better understanding, friendships and working relationships between both faith groups. It has undertaken interfaith, conflict resolution and historical projects in order to facilitate and nurture stronger relations between faith communities such as Jewish and Muslim communities.