Hero climbs building to save terrified child

'Spiderman' to meet President Macron amid French citizenship calls after dramatic rescue

A man who scaled the outside of a building using his bare hands to save a four-year-old child dangling off a fourth-floor balcony was due to meet President Emmanuel Macron on Monday morning.

Mamoudou Gassama was hailed a hero on social networks, after a film emerged in which he scrambled up the outside of a building in Paris's 18th arrondissement on Saturday evening, using balcony safety rails to reach the child. Videos of the dramatic rescue have been viewed millions of times.

An online petition was launched on Sunday calling for the young Malian who has been in France just a few months and who has no official papers, to be made a French citizen.

"For Mamoudou Gassama, this courage must find recognition for our country. And what better recognition than to allow this man to live quietly in a country he has chosen, not out of laziness, ease or search for social assistance, but simply to lead his life there," said the association SOS Racisme, which launched the petition.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has personally congratulated the hero, who has been given the nickname Spiderman, while Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said "this act of immense bravery... must open the doors of our national community to him".

Ms Hidalgo added "the City of Paris will obviously have at heart to support him in his steps to settle in France".

Mr Gassama later told reporters he had acted without thinking. "I saw all these people shouting, and cars sounding their horns. I climbed up like that and, thank God, I saved the child," he said. "I felt afraid when I saved the child... (afterwards) we went into the living room, I started to shake, I could hardly stand up, I had to sit down."

The child has been taken into care. Firefighters, who arrived at the scene soon after the dramatic rescue, said that the boy was at home alone. His father has been taken into custody.  The child's mother was not in Paris at the time.

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