Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen has ignited debate in Europe after a video appeared to show him supporting a woman’s right to wear an Islamic headscarf – and suggesting that all women should wear a headscarf to battle prejudice against Muslims.

Speaking to students at the House of the European Union in Vienna on March 24, Van der Bellen said that it was his opinion that women had a right to dress however they want. “If Islamophobia continues to spread . . . the day will come when we will have to ask all women to wear headscarves,” he said, according to video footage of the event. “All of them. In solidarity with those who wear them for religious reasons.”

“This isn’t too far-fetched,” Van der Bellen continued, adding that he remembered a story about some non-Jewish Danes wearing the Star of David during the German occupation of Denmark in World War II.

Islamic veils are a controversial subject in Europe, where some argue that they hinder the integration of the continent’s growing Muslim population, while others argue that the focus on items of clothing like the hijab, niqab and burqa is prejudicial. Austria recently joined France and Belgium by implementing a nationwide ban on veils that obscure the face, like the niqab and the burqa, in public places.

Headscarves such as the hijab, which cover only the head and neck, are not subject to these restrictions in Austria. However, the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Sebastian Kurz had proposed a ban on public servants wearing them in January.

Van der Bellen’s comments were little noticed last month, but came to prominence after they were included in a segment on the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation which aired Tuesday.

The segment focused on the Austrian head of state’s first 100 days in office; Van der Bellen, a longtime representative of Austria’s Green Party who had run as an independent, entered office in January after winning a contentious election against right-wing Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer late last year.

There has been widespread debate about Van der Bellen’s remarks online, with some Austrian voters demanding that the president resign. The comments have also been widely reported on right-wing U.S. websites.