French president Emmanuel Macron has slammed his Brazilian counterpart for endorsing social media comments that mocked his older wife Brigitte, 66.
Mr Macron condemned Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro’s remark as “extraordinarily rude” and “sad” after the South American leader commented on a Facebook post poking fun at the French first lady’s age.
The meme contained a photo contrasting Brigitte Macron with the Brazilian president’s younger wife, Michelle Bolsanaro, 37, and read: “Now you understand why Macron is persecuting Bolsonaro?”
In response to the comment, Mr Bolsonaro wrote (in Portuguese): “Do not humiliate (him)… man, ha ha.”
Mr Macron, who is hosting word leaders for the G7 summit in France, condemned Mr Bolsanaro’s apparent dig, adding that he hoped Brazil would soon have a president who was “up to the job”.
“He had extremely disrespectful comments towards my wife,” Mr Macron said.
“What can I tell you? It’s sad. It’s sad for him and for Brazilians. I think that Brazilian women are probably ashamed to read that their president has done that.”
“I think that Brazilians, a great people, are a bit ashamed of this behavior,” Mr Macron added.
“As I have a lot of friendship and respect for the Brazilian people, I hope that they will quickly have a president who is up to the job.”
Mr Macron and Mr Bolsonaro are locked in a diplomatic spat after the French president raised global alarm over a record number of fires ravaging the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.
Mr Macron has been leading an international charge for action to save the world’s largest rainforest – known as the ‘planet’s lungs’ – amid accusations Brazil’s president has been complacent and complicit in allowing its destruction.
Calling the Amazon fires a global emergency, Mr Macron pushed the disaster to the top of the G7 agenda and said the member states were ready to provide concrete help.
However Mr Bolsanaro, who has a history of anti-environment rhetoric, denounced France’s plan for an international alliance on the Amazon, saying it reeked of colonialism.
Mr Bolsonaro said Brazil was being treated like “a colony or no man’s land” and described it as an attack on his nation’s sovereignty.
The right-wing Brazilian leader, who has earned the moniker ‘Tropical Trump’, is known for offensive and inappropriate comments including about women, black people and minorities.
During a heated debate in parliament with left-wing congresswoman Maria do Rosario in September 2014 he infamously said: “I wouldn’t rape you because you don’t deserve it”.
When referring to his daughter at a public event in 2017 he noted: “I have five children. I had four boys, and in the fifth, I weakened and a girl came”.
Approval ratings for his government have plummeted to 29.4 per cent according to a poll published on Monday showing most Brazilians are unhappy with his performance.