French first lady Brigitte Macron condemns politically motivated attack on relative

French first lady Brigitte Macron issued a rare statement Tuesday condemning a physical attack on her great-nephew that took place on the sidelines of a demonstration against her husband’s contested pension reform.

Police said eight people were arrested in the northern French city Amiens in connection with the Monday night assault on Jean-Baptiste Trogneux, 30, who runs a family chocolate shop.

Brigitte Macron called out the assault’s “cowardice, stupidity and violence.”

“I am in full solidarity with my family and have been in touch constantly since 11 pm yesterday,” she said. “I have on several occasions denounced this kind of violence that can only lead to the worst.”

Trogneux was reportedly heading to his apartment above the chocolate shop when he was attacked. His father, Jean-Alexandre Trogneux, said the assailants insulted “the president, his wife and our family” before making an escape.

From the Council of Europe in Iceland, French President Emmanuel Macron called the violence “unacceptable, and it shocks everyone...As an uncle, I consider these actions unacceptable, and as President of the Republic, they are unspeakable."

The president said Monday evening on French TV network TF1 that he would continue with unpopular pension reforms that would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. The change was the focus of months of anti-government protests and some of the worst social unrest the country has seen in decades.