The president of Austria has urged all women to wear hijab in solidarity with Muslims as to fight Islamophobia.

Alexander Van der Belen, who take office in January, noted that freedom of expression was a fundamental right.

“It is every woman’s right to always dress how she wants, that is my opinion on the matter,” he said.

“And it is not only Muslim women, all women can wear a headscarf, and if this real and rampant Islamaphobia continues, there will come a day where we must ask all women to wear a headscarf – all – out of solidarity to those who do it for religious reasons.”

The Austrian president made the remarks in March but it was broadcast on Austrian television as debates about “burqa bans” emerged in the country and neighboring Germany.

The president’s office also said that Van der Belen believed prohibitions were only justified in certain circumstances, including for female judges.

The Freedom Party of Austria has been striving to impose a partial ban on full-face Islamic veils in courts, schools and other public places. The decision was announced in January.

The prohibition would apply to the niqab and burqa but not headscarves, which cover the hair and neck only.