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Egyptian hero fishermen honoured by Greece with citizenship

Emad Ibrahim and Mahmoud Mousa saved 70 people and four dogs from the ferocious wildfires that tore through Mati in July
Egyptian fisherman Mahmoud Mousa rescued 23 Greeks and four dogs from the wildfires. (EPT1 TV)

Greece has granted citizenship to two Egyptian fishermen who rescued 70 people from the wildfires that claimed the lives of at least 90 people in July.

Using their fishing boats, Emad Ibrahim and Mahmoud Mousa rushed to help those who ran for their lives towards the sea as fires raged in the resort town of Mati last July. Mousa estimated that he also saved four dogs in the process.

The Greek government said the fires were triggered by arsonists.

A house burns as a wildfire rages at the village of Mati, near Athens on July 23, 2018 (Angelos Tzortznis / AFP)

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The decision to grant Ibrahim and Mousa citizenship came directly from Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

“The fishermen of Nea Makri, locals and migrants, battled heroically during the tragedy to save lives. The country recognizes their self-sacrifice and we thank them,” Tsipras said.

On Friday, the Egyptian Minister of Immigration and Diaspora Affairs Nabila Makram congratulated the fishermen and said they would also be honoured by Egypt.

"You were Egypt's best ambassadors and demonstrated your true bravery and humanity by saving Greek people who were in danger from the fires in Attica," Makram told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency.

Greek Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Terence Quick officially thanked Makram for what the Egyptian fishermen did, and informed her of Tsipras’s decision to grant them citizenship, the Egyptian daily Ahram reported on Friday.

One fisherman, Mousa, filmed his rescue effort via his Facebook live feed. He said he risked his life to save those fleeing the fire.

“We are going to save the people from the fires,” he says in the video.

"If we entered the smoke, we could die. If we didn't enter, the people wouldn't be saved," he said in an interview with Al Jazeera.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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