Excerpt:

Muslims who attended a conference in Austria's capital criticized European countries Sunday for considering the possibility of banning face-covering veils, saying it is counterproductive and regressive.

Veil bans are being considered in Belgium and France, and lawmakers in other European countries have also raised the issue.

The roughly 100 imams and Muslim religious advisers from 40 countries participating in the meeting in Vienna agreed that Islam doesn't make it a requirement for women to wear face veils and saw little need to discuss it because of consensus on the matter, said Carla Amina Baghajati, a spokeswoman for the Islamic Religious Authority in Austria, which hosted the meeting.

"Nevertheless, we are critical that it comes to a ban," Baghajati said. "Why? Because it's counterproductive." She was among about 30 women taking part in the meeting.


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