Italy’s nationalist de facto leader, Deputy Prime minister Matteo Salvini, has proposed that American movie star Richard Gere use his private jet to fly to Hollywood 160 migrants who are stranded on a rubber boat in the central Mediterranean Sea.
Gere had requested European leaders to allow the ship entry on European land.
Gere was photographed and videotaped extensively onboard the migrant ship wearing a T-shirt from Spanish NGO “Open Arms,” giving food supplies to the migrants.
Italy’s Salvini tells Richard Gere to take the stranded migrants to Hollywood on his private jet.
— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) August 12, 2019
The ship is near the Italian island Lampedusa, and it has been stranded for more than a week.
The star of “American Gigolo” has a long history as an activist and gave a short speech where he said: “The most important thing,” referring to the migrants, is “to be able to get to a free port, to be able to get off the boats and get on land and start a new life.”
— EP Today (@EPToday) August 12, 2019
‘He can take them to Hollywood on his private jet!’ Italian Deputy PM Matteo Salvini hits back at Richard Gere after the actor criticised nation for its refusal to accept migrants stranded in the Mediterranean https://t.co/HZkO7ULkOx via @MailOnline
— Irene V (@IBumbybee) August 12, 2019
Salvini’s response came soon: “As the generous millionaire airs his demands about the fate of the Open Arms immigrants, we thank him: he will be able to bring everyone in his private jet to Hollywood and keep them in his villas,” reported Bloomberg.
He continued his response to Gere saying, “surely, he is impressed by the decisions that have been taken to bolster police and counter smugglers and criminals. Italy had been waiting for those measures for years.”
Malta said they will take in 39 of the migrants, but other governments have denied disembarkment, said Oscar Camps, founder of Open Arms.
Camps said, “no decree or fine will stop us from protecting people at sea.”
Salvini has also threatened to seize the ship.
Salvini told Spain that they should take them in, noting that the boat is registered in Spain, but Spanish authorities declined, saying they should disembark at the nearest port.
Previsión de olas de 2,2m altura para miércoles por la tarde.Italia decreta prohibición de entrada en sus aguas territoriales al #OpenArms para protegerse al abrigo de Lampedusa. Malta deniega la entrada en sus aguas territoriales para protegerse al abrigo de Malta. Que bien todo pic.twitter.com/ylr39PhOOy
— Oscar Camps (@campsoscar) August 12, 2019
Immigration in Italy
New arrivals to Italy have plummeted since Salvini took office last June, with just 348 migrants coming so far this year, according to official data, down 94 percent from the same period in 2018 and down 98 percent on 2017.
— Marco Ferrer (@FerrerMafehn) August 12, 2019
Salvini’s closed-port policy has helped support for his League party double since March 2018 elections, with Italians backing his uncompromising stance after almost 650,000 migrants came to Italy from North Africa between 2014 and early 2018.
Salvi said he has specifically taken action to ban from Italy the NGO Open Arms, and the Ocean Viking, a Norwegian-flagged rescue ship.
He told Italian state television station RAI: “Italy is not a refugee camp for Europe. Go either to Spain or Norway.”
Reuters contributed to this report.