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  • Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos hosted a ceremony to honor the three migrants.

    Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos hosted a ceremony to honor the three migrants. | Photo: Reuters

Published 3 January 2019

The three men assisted in pulling people from the ocean as well as leading many survivors to safety to a nearby port after flames threatened the shores and destroyed many homes.  

Wednesday Greek citizenship was awarded to three migrants who helped to rescue dozens of people who were pinned in the sea during a devastating wildfire during the summer.

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"The three foreign nationals, displaying self-sacrifice and ignoring the dangers, joined Greek fishermen and saved dozens of our fellow citizens, including many children whose lives were at risk," an official government release stated. "Their self-denial and the exceptional contribution ... warrant the application of legal provisions for honorary naturalization."

The three men assisted in pulling smoke-drunk people from the ocean as well as leading many survivors to safety to a nearby port after flames threatened the shores and destroyed many homes.  

Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos hosted a ceremony to honor 35-year-old Albania Gani Xheka, and 50-year-old and 46-year-old Egyptians Emad El Khaimi and Mahmoud Ibrahim Musa.

"You are now European citizens too, and so you can teach all our partners who don't realize the values of Europe, to do what they ought to do," the president said.

"In a situation like that, when you are talking about people's lives, there's no religion, no black people, no white people. You just have to help people who are in danger," El Khaimi said after the ceremony.

Haimi added: "Thank God we managed to save some people and I would do this again a thousand times. As long as I live, and can, I will be trying to do good for Greece. I will do that without second thoughts."

Pavlopoulos stated that the selfless actions of the migrants-turned-citizens sent “a message to Europe" to counter the wide-scale and increasing anti-immigrant sentiment.

Interior Minister Alexis Charistis commented that the "human values" the fishermen displayed are ones people must hold dear in the face of the resurgence of voices of racism and hatred.

The deadly summer fire claimed the lives of about 100 people.

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