The Muslim hero who saved Jewish shoppers during the fatal terror attack on a Paris kosher supermarket is to be honoured in London by Jewish News and Faith Matters.
Britain’s most-read Jewish newspaper and the interfaith organisation are teaming up to bring Lassana Bathily to the UK for a four-day visit that will include a City Hall reception hosted by new London mayor Sadiq Khan, and attended by politicians and community leaders.
Mali-born Bathily was working at the Hyper Cacher supermarket when fellow Malian Amedy Coulibaly burst into the store just hours before Shabbat.
Four people died in the assault last January, but the number of victims could have been far higher but for the bravery of the 25-year-old, who guided shoppers into the safety of a cold store room.
After managing to escape, he was held for an hour by police who mistook him for a terrorist, before helping officers to make out the scene, playing a role in helping bring the siege to an end.
His visit will also include a public event with JW3 on 29 May, at which he will be interviewed by Special Correspondent for BBC News Lucy Manning, as well as a meeting with a group of Muslim and Jewish women and tea at the House of Lords.
The event will also hear from CST communications director Mark Gardner, who will discuss the security impact of the attacks and the comparative situation for Jews in France and Britain.
Faith Matters director Fiyaz Mughal said: “Lassana’s story is one of hope triumphing over hate. It is a story of one man who has overcome the odds and whose belief in Islam means that he sees no difference in people apart from whether they do good or not.
“This is the Islam he was brought up with in Mali, yet he came across a fellow Malian on that fateful day whose belief in the so called Islamic State led him to kill Jewish shoppers.
“Lassana’s actions saved lives and shows the struggle of true Islam, which values pluralism against the strain ofextremism that is Daesh and which has sought to represent itself as Islam. This is why his message needs to be heard and why Faith Matters have brought him to the UK with Jewish News.”
Justin Cohen, news editor of Jewish News, said: “While he shuns the title, Lassana is a true hero whose selfless actions were a shining light in the midst of unimaginable evil and horror. In a world where too often stories of strife between faiths grab the headlines, his story caught the imagination of media around the world and sent out a much-needed counter narrative.
“It is partly to highlight stories of cooperation that we launched our dedicated interfaith section online two years ago and are delighted Sadiq Khan’s support will enable us to honour Lassana in the heart of our proudly diverse city.”
• For tickets to the JW3 event go to www.jw3.org.uk/event/paris-attacks-france-uk-and-antisemitism