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Proactiva volunteers. Matteo Salvini speaking to reporters. Photo: Proactiva/Twitter

Salvini mocks Hollywood actor’s intervention on migrant rescue vessel

On Friday, August 9, the 69-year-old American Hollywood actor Richard Gere boarded a migrant rescue vessel, demanding that Italy stop "demonizing" migrants.

Published: August 11, 2019, 10:08 am

    Gere was photographed on the Open Arms, driven back from several European ports with 121 migrants on board.

    The Open Arms, an NGO migrant rescue ship was stopped by Italy, Malta and Spain from entering the EU.

    “We are here on the ship Open Arms,” Gere said in a video broadcast by the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms. And he added: “I have just arrived from Lampedusa, we have brought as much water and food as possible for everyone on board.”

    French daily Le Figaro reported on Saturday, that the American actor said it was necessary to stop “demonizing” migrants.

    “Most people talk about them as migrants, but for me they are refugees on the run. They represent 121 different stories, they are extraordinary people, they are so strong, they have lived horrors, hell, torture, rape, imprisonment,” he said at a press conference in Lampedusa alongside leaders of Proactiva. The 69-year-old said the Italian government was imitating the policy approach taken by US President Donald Trump.

    But Salvini was not amused. “I hope he gets a tan, that he feels good, but I don’t think he misses anything, so, have a good trip,” Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini mocked the Hollywood star, advising him to take the migrants to Ibiza.

    Salvini also suggested that Richard Gere should house migrants in his Hollywood villas after the actor stepped into the Mediterranean migrant crisis.

    “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!” Salvini said.

    On Friday, the Ocean Viking, the new ship of SOS Mediterranean and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), rescued 85 migrants. The boat in question, which has departed from Libya, was spotted on Thursday evening by a plane of the European operation Sophia.

    Matteo Salvini, for his part, quickly sent a letter to the Government of Norway, since the vessel sails under the Norwegian flag. “Italy is not legally bound, nor willing to host unidentified illegal immigrants, aboard the Ocean Viking,” said the Italian Minister of the Interior.

    Although pro-immigration protesters tried to stop Salvini coming to Soverato on the weekend, the League leader went ahead and did not change his plans. “From the Roma camps and from the social centers we have seen a zero contribution to the human species,” he said while protests grew stronger.

    And Salvini would have continued if damage to the sound system had not forced him to interrupt the meeting.

    “An idiot has damaged the system…” , Salvini explained to those present who filled the entire square.

    According to Italian sources, it was a full-blown sabotage and the protester was immediately identified by the police. “If they have damaged a system it means that we are winning our battle of civilization,” Salvini commented.

    After a few minutes the amplification system was restored and the Deputy Premier spoke again. He addressed the protesters. “These people should have done a bit of military service or a bit of volunteering in the parish or with the elderly”, said the leader of the Northern League, adding that he was sorry that “women and men of law enforcement have to take care of these spoiled daddy’s children.”

    Even before Salvini’s intervention began, there were moments of tension between the troublemakers of the social centers and the police. In the square the antagonists presented themselves with the usual signs that read “Ports closed only to the League”. The police managed to keep the protesters at a distance however.

    A deranged migrant meanwhile threatened to set himself on fire with a lighter at the San Pietro square in Rome shouting “Allah Akbar”. He was immediately stopped by the police.

    Moments of fear were felt as a man of Iraqi nationality, requesting international protection, threatened to set himself on fire with a lighter. He sowed panic among the tourists shouting “Allah Akbar”.

    The man who had started getting agitated, became nervous, and then visibly hysterical, shouted: “Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar!”

    The deranged man screamed at a large group of tourists and pilgrims who were paralyzed by fear. But the immediate police intervention immobilized the man and, after calming him, they led him to the Borgo Commissariat for investigations.

    The delirium, on the whole, lasted only two minutes. According to Italian daily Il Giornale, is was an Iraqi illegal immigrant requiring asylum.

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    • Mike Smith

      You just have to love Salvini.

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