Italy Tells Richard Gere to Fly Migrants to Hollywood, House Them in His Villas
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini blasts millionaire actor over migrant demands
Following public demands by Richard Gere, that Italy opens its borders to African migrants, Italian leader Matteo Salvini responded to the "generous millionaire" actor by telling him to fly them to Hollywood on his private jet and house "them in his villas."
Gere was in Italy to put pressure on the government after populist Interior Minister Salvini introduced tough new laws blocking migrant ships from docking in Italian ports without permission.
The "Pretty Woman" star visited a Spanish charity boat carrying migrants from Africa that is stranded in the Mediterranean Sea after being refused entry to Italy.
The actor declared that the Italian government needs to stop “demonizing people.”
69-year-old Gere boarded the ship, which has been blocked from entering Italian waters, on Friday.
Italy’s Salvini hit back, saying Gere should take the 160 migrants to Hollywood.
After visiting the Open Arms ship in a show of support, Gere also joined a news conference on the Italian island of Lampedusa, demanding that the migrants to be allowed to dock.
He made comparisons between Salvini, who has made repeated efforts to block migrant ships from docking in Italy, and US President Donald Trump, who has faced widespread criticism for his immigration policies.
“We have our problems with refugees coming from Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico…,” he said, accusing both politicians of demonizing migrants.
"It’s very similar to what you are going through here,” he added.
“This has to stop everywhere on this planet now.
"And it will stop if we say stop."
It didn’t take Salvini long to respond.
“Given this generous millionaire is voicing concern for the fate of the Open Arms migrants, we thank him: he can take them back to Hollywood, on his private plane, all the people aboard and support them in his villas. Thank you Richard!” he said in a statement.
Over the course of a career spanning more than 40 years, Gere has starred in films including Pretty Woman, American Gigolo, and An Officer and a Gentleman.
A campaigner for environmental causes and AIDS awareness, he is also a Buddhist who pays regular visits to Dharamshala, the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
Richard Gere is worth an estimated £100million according to the website celebritynetworth.com.
Salvini, whose party made sweeping gains in last year’s Italian general election, has pledged to deport 500,000 migrants by 2023.
Earlier this week he tabled a motion of no confidence in his own government, in a bid to force through a snap election and take control from his coalition partners Five Star Movement.