Author: Oliver Duff
The bar has been raised for migrants to Europe. The traditional route for attaining EU citizenship involves clinging to the landing gear of an airliner or crossing the Mediterranean on a deflating lil. Once arrived in your adopted homeland, if you don’t have the right papers, best keep your head down. Not Mamoudou Gassama, 22, the Spider-Man of Paris.
Mr Gassama joins a select group who have been rewarded with residency for performing acts of great heroism.
Other examples of selflessness include Rome’s Sobuj Khalifa, a homeless illegal migrant from Bangladesh, who three years ago leapt into the River Tiber to rescue a drowning woman.
He was subsequently surprised to receive a one-year permit to remain in the city, and he soon afterwards returned to living rough along the river bank.
In 2015, during a terror attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris, a young Malian employee saved the lives of six hostages when he hid them, escaped and directed gendarmes to rescue them.
After six years of failing to secure legal residency in France, Lassana Bathily finally received a French passport and medal, before writing a book, “Je ne suis pas un héros”, and creating a charity providing irrigation for his home village in Mali. He now works at Paris City Hall.
Two years ago in Turin, an Egyptian man who was in Italy illegally caught an armed robber, pinned him down and waited for the police, even though he thought that they would deport him. Instead he was granted a work visa.
Mr Gassama has been in France for eight months, since arriving via Burkina Faso, Niger, Libya, the perilous Med crossing and Italy.
These cases are exceptions, not policy, and it seems that for the foreseeable future most people like Mr Gassama will continue to undertake perilous journeys and struggle with insurmountable officialdom.
These flashes of astonishing courage and public spirit remind us that all migrants are human beings.