Italian far-right leader and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini is a "baby Trump" who exploits people's fears to win votes, U.S. actor Richard Gere charged in an interview released yesterday. Gere, 69, recently clashed with Salvini over the Open Arms, a charity rescue ship with more than 100 migrants on board being denied port entry in Italy. "[Your] interior minister has the same mentality as President Trump. In fact, I call Salvini ‘baby Trump.' He uses the same radical ignorance, he exploits fear and hatred," Gere told Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
Gere, who visited the Open Arms ship in a show of support last week, joined a news conference on the Italian island of Lampedusa to call for the 160 migrants stuck on the boat to be allowed to disembark. He compared the political situation in Italy, where Salvini has repeatedly refused requests by migrant ships to dock, to that of the U.S. administration of Donald Trump. Salvini has long argued that Italy, which lies close to the Libyan coast, should no longer be the main gateway for migrants fleeing Africa for Europe. He accuses the charities of becoming "taxis" for people-smuggling gangs.
Standoffs with nongovernmental organization boats have become common in the last year as European member states at odds over who should be responsible for accepting migrants have refused port to vessels carrying rescued people, often leaving them stranded at sea for days in worsening conditions awaiting a solution.
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