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When he saw a boy hanging from the balcony of a building in Paris, France, Mamoudou Gassama did not think twice and climbed four stories to rescue him. Because of his courageous act, the African from Mali became known as “Spider-Man”. French president Emmanuel Macron received him at the Elysée Palace on May 28th.
The 22-year-old Malian had been living illegally in the French capital since September 2017. This means that he did not have permission to live, work, or even use public services like health, education, and safety there.
Macron paid Mamoudou homage, granting him French citizenship and a job with the fire service. The young man thanked Macron and said that it is the first time he had been given an award. Mamoudou talked to a French TV channel about his difficult journey. He left southwestern Mali in 2013 and travelled on the immigrants’ route through the Sahara desert – passing through Nigeria and Libya – then crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. Like many immigrants, Mamoudou said that he had been exploited and had gone through terrible hardship, often going without food, shelter, or safety.
Mamoudou’s heroic acts and stories drew attention to the situation of illegal immigrants in France, whose government has been tightening the rules to grant them citizenship. Macron’s attitude, in his critics’ view, sends the message that people can only become French citizens if they do something extraordinary that most French people would never even attempt.
1) What living illegally in a country means:
A) Having to steal to survive
B) Not having basic rights and guarantees from the government
C) Living in temporary housing
D) Having documents, but no work
2) What do you think drives a person like Mamoudou Gassama to leave their country?