"I behaved as any Frenchman should have behaved. As any Frenchman would have behaved," Henri assured the French media with an affable smile. He is the "hero with the backpack," the French traveler, who stood between the Syrian attacker who with a knife seriously wounded four children in a park in Annecy, France, Thursday.
A tragedy rocked France when a Syrian refugee perpetrated a knife attack in a park in Annecy. Abdelmasih H., the attacker, managed to obtain asylum permission in Sweden in 2013. He has no known criminal or psychiatric record and therefore the French Prosecutor's Office has not yet provided details about the motive for the attack. They do not rule out or support the assumption of a terrorist attack. Several passers-by told the media that Abdelmasih H. had been wandering around the park for several days. According to the Public Prosecutor's Office, he is being held under arrest.
IMÁGENES SENSIBLES | Así fue el ataque a puñaladas perpetrado por un terrorista sirio en un parque en #Annecy, Francia, en el que al menos seis niños y un adulto resultaron heridos. El atacante fue detenido. pic.twitter.com/ptisweIy6N
— VOZ (@VozMediaUSA) June 8, 2023
The Syrian refugee attacked several bystanders and children with a small knife. In the images that circulated on social media, it could then be seen how a young backpacker enters into action and, with the help of one of his travel bags, confronts the attacker. The man was Henri D'Anselme, who courageously swung his backpack to hit the Syrian and try to disarm him.
A Catholic influencer guided by faith
"I followed my instinct," explains naturally the young traveler, who has dedicated himself to traveling through France on foot to visit Catholic cathedrals for nine months. "Unfortunately, my path crossed with this tragedy," continues the 24-year-old Frenchman, who is now in the media spotlight and will be interviewed with Emmanuel Macron, president of the French Republic.
Henri began his journey in the town of Barroux, in the French region of Vaucluse, at the end of March. Before passing through Annecy, he made a stopover in Grenoble. He was in the vicinity of the park that morning when he came across the attack and was forced to intervene. The young man shared his experience through various social networks.
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He considers himself a Frenchman with a strong belief in Catholic values. A week before the attack, a French media outlet, Dauphine Libérée, interviewed Henri. The young man, a graduate in International Management, considers that as a child he "fell into the faith" because of his great devotion to Catholicism. That same faith is what pushed Henri to walk for nine months from cathedral to cathedral. "This country is full of wonders to visit," he explained in a television interview for BFMTV.
"At first I thought it was just a robbery. Then I realized it was an attack when I saw the guy going after the children. Then I jumped in," recalled the young Henri to the French media. "It was impossible for me to watch without reacting. It must be impossible for any Frenchman not to react," said the pilgrim.
Similar to Ignacio Echeverría, the skateboarding hero
With Henri's heroic actions, it is impossible not to remember Ignacio Echevarría, the Spanish skateboarder who died when he confronted an Islamist terrorist with a knife in London. In 2017, a group of three Islamic terrorists crashed a vehicle into a restaurant area in London and then began attacking passers-by with bladed weapons. Ignacio Echeverría confronted one of them armed only with his skateboard.
Casualmente, estamos pasando unos días en Annecy los padres de Ignacio Echeverria, que vinimos a la primera comunión de uno de nuestros nietos, lamento mucho el atentado y me congratulo de conocer de haber visto las imágenes de un héroe, sigue habiendo héroes https://t.co/JLEq4tmiku
— Joaquín Echeverría Alonso (@Jea60930295) June 8, 2023
Social media removed the videos
Within hours of the attack in Annecy, a number of videos of the attack began to circulate on social media. However, Twitter soon began purging all images in connection with the incident. Only a few media outlets managed to keep the images uncensored.