Austrian Chancellor Calls on All Women to Wear Headscarves Against Islamophobia

A comment by Austrian chancellor Alexander van der Bellen, predicting a day that all women wear headscarves as a sign of solidarity with Muslim women and against Islamophobia, has prompted a backlash from some quarters of the public.

The comment was made during a question-and-answer session with students hosted by the European Commission in Vienna on March 24. Van der Bellen responded to a question posed by one young Muslim woman asking his views on a recent European Court judgment that permits employers to ban headscarves in the workplace. She criticized the judgment, saying it evaluated women on appearance rather than ability and limited access to the job market for Muslim women.

Van der Bellen said he believed women should have the right to dress as they liked, and that “if things continue this way […] amid this sweeping Islamophobia, there will be the day when we have to ask all women to wear a headscarf.” He drew comparisons to the Nazi occupation of Denmark, when non-Jewish Danes decided to wear the Star of David as a sign of resistance against deportations of Jews. Credit: European Commission in Austria via Storyful