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#DesculpaBrigitte: Brazilians apologise for Bolsonaro's remarks about French first lady

Gérard Julien, AFP | French First Lady Brigitte Macron pictured at the presidential summer retreat at fort Brégançon on August 19.

Brazilians took to social media on Tuesday to apologise for their president, Jair Bolsonaro, after he insulted the wife of French President Emmanuel Macron with whom he has a continuing diplomatic spat.

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A Bolsonaro supporter posted a Facebook message that compared Brigitte Macron's appearance unfavourably to that of Brazil's first lady.

"Now do you understand why Macron is persecuting Bolsonaro?" he wrote next to a picture of Brigitte Macron, 66, who is 29 years older than Bolsonaro's wife Michelle Bolsonaro, 37.

"Do not humiliate the guy, ha ha," Bolsonaro replied, in a comment widely criticised as sexist.

Asked at a press conference about the remarks on Monday, Macron called them "extraordinarily rude".

"It's sad, but it's sad most of all for him and for the Brazilians," he said.

"I think Brazilian women will probably be ashamed to read that from their president," Macron added.

>> Macron calls out Bolsonaro's 'rude' insults against wife Brigitte

"I think that Brazilians, who are a great people, will probably be ashamed to see this behaviour."

Offering his own dig at the populist Brazilian, Macron said: "As I feel friendship and respect towards the Brazilian people, I hope that they will soon have a president who behaves properly."

And it appears many Brazilians feel the same. Some took to Twitter on Tuesday to express their dismay at their president's comments using the hashtag #DesculpaBrigitte (Sorry, Brigitte).

"Sorry about our president, he’s a idiot. #DesculpaBrigitte," wrote one, in English.

Some emphasised that Bolsonaro did not speak for them and was not representative of the Brazilian spirit.

Others were full of praise for France's first lady and expressed embarrassment at Bolsonaro's comments.

Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho, famed author of "The Alchemist", went as far as to make a video in which he apologises for Bolsonaro in French.

"This is a sad video to apologise to my French friends for the crisis, the hysteria, of Bolsonaro toward France, the French president and the French first lady," he said by way of introduction.

Some made their own unflattering comparisons between Bolsonaro and Macron.

Or even likened Bolsonaro to SpongeBob SquarePants, a cartoon of a yellow sponge who lives in a pineapple under the Pacific Ocean.

Others pointed out the hypocrisy of a young man being ridiculed for having an older wife.

"Isn't it funny how older men think it's OK to have a good looking young wife, but think it's terrible for an older woman to have a good looking younger husband."

News of the tweets has apparently reached Brigitte Macron, who is said to be touched by the messages of support.

But despite the apologies, relations took another turn for the worse on Tuesday when Bolsonaro rejected $20 million in aid offered by G7 countries to fight the fires raging in the Amazon, saying Brazil would only accept if Macron retracted certain comments that he found offensive, among them Macron's criticisms of Bolsonaro's reaction to the Amazon crisis.

"Mr Macron must withdraw the insults he made against me," Bolsonaro told reporters in the capital Brasilia.

Brazilians, including Paulo Coelho, apologise for Bolsonaro using #DesculpaBrigitte

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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