French European affairs minister, Nathalie Loiseau, on Wednesday said Italian interior minister, Matteo Salvini, was behaving “like Pontius Pilate”, over his position on migrants.
Pilate was the Roman official who condemned Jesus Christ to death.
Ms Loiseau made the comments on French radio RTL as she discussed the situation regarding the Mediterranean rescue ship Aquarius.
France, Portugal, Spain and Germany agreed on Tuesday to take in migrants from the rescue ship sailing off the coast of Malta, after Italy refused to let the vessel dock.
“Mr Salvini today, he’s like Pontius Pilate. It’s obscene,” Ms Loiseau told media.
Far-right leader, Mr Salvini, who is also Italy’s deputy prime minister, has taken a tough line on the issue of immigrants arriving in Italy from Africa and the Middle East.
Earlier this month, he likened African immigrants to slaves at a European conference.