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Man held hostage in Bataclan wins French nationality

A Chilean man who was taken hostage in the Bataclan terrorist attacks of November 2015 has been awarded French citizenship after over 20 years living in France.

David Fritz Goeppinger, aged 25, has spoken publicly of his new French nationality, which he requested after escaping from being held hostage in the terrorist attack at the Bataclan venue, which killed 89 and injured 368 (of the 130 people killed in total, not including the seven perpetrators).

His naturalisation was confirmed this week after he took part in the welcome ceremony into French nationality (cérémonie d'accueil dans la nationalité française’), at the Panthéon in Paris on July 6.

David arrived in France with his parents in 1996, but had never before sought to gain French nationality. He said that he previously had trouble identifying as French, because of what he called the country’s “administrative woes (déboires administratifs)”.

He changed his mind after being taken hostage by terrorists in the Bataclan venue for two and half hours.

It has taken him nearly two years to gain nationality, having made - he says - 150 calls to his local authority in his home department of Essonne (Ile-de-France), to arrange a meeting, which never materialised.

It was only when he contacted an association for victims of the attacks that his case was brought to the attention of Juliette Méadel, the former secretary of state put in charge of helping the victims.

In February this year, he received notice of his citizenship.

Speaking in French at the Panthéon, he said: “Today, it is time that I acknowledge: I am Franco-Chilean. [To be French] represents freedom, which is something that was denied me one day [during the attacks] for two and half hours.

“Today, thanks to this monument [the Panthéon], thanks to what France has done for me, I finally feel French, and I believe I can finally say that I accept France into my spirit, my soul, and my heart.”

David was one of 450 people to receive nationality on July 6 this year. According to figures from the Ministry of the Interior, 88 775 people received French nationality in 2016.  

At the time of the November 2015 attacks, the Bataclan theatre and bar was hosting an Eagles of Death Metal concert.

Overall, the attacks killed 130 people, including the Bataclan victims (but not including the seven perpetrators, who also died), with other incidents taking place on the same night near the Stade de France sports stadium and in several Parisian streets.

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