Richard Gere clashed with an Italian politician who suggested the American actor take a boatload of stranded African migrants back to Hollywood with him. The migrants have been stranded on a boat in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Italy for 9 days.
On Friday, the Pretty Woman star boarded the Spanish humanitarian ship Open Arms, which is stuck off the coast of Italy, as no European government will offer the rescued migrants on board safe haven.
The ship has been in limbo since August 1. Thousands of social media users around the world issued pleas to European governments to end the humanitarian crisis, which many say is racist.
According to BBC News, Gere called for Italy to allow the migrants to dock and criticized Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini for "demonizing people".
"We have our problems with refugees coming from Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico... It's very similar to what you are going through here," Gere told the BBC. "This has to stop everywhere on this planet now. And it will stop if we say stop."
But, Salvini, who is also interior minister of Italy, hit back, telling Gere to take the 160 migrants back home with him to Hollywood.
"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 in a statement.
Humanitarian aid workers, with the financial support of Gere and others, deliver food and water to the migrants so they don't starve to death while Italy denies their request to dock in the harbor on the Italian island of Lampedusa.
One Instagram user wrote: "My husband on board @proactivaopenarms delivering food and water, after 8 days they still have no port/harbor to disembark. We need to urge please help them!"
The Spanish boat faces a fine of up to $1.1 million if it enters Italian waters.