MPs from 47 countries have unanimously voted against a general ban on the wearing of the burka in public.
The Parliamentary Assembly of Europe's human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, passed a resolution warning that if governments imposed such a ban they would be denying women "who genuinely and freely desire to do so" their right to cover their faces.
This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog - islamineurope.blogspot.com
But while the Assembly opposed a general ban, it left the door open for targeted laws against the burka, pointing out that legal restrictions may be justified "for security purposes, or where the public or professional functions of individuals require their religious neutrality, or that their face can be seen".
The resolution was part of a report on Islam, Islamism and Islamophobia, which also called on European governments to work to educate Muslim women, their families and communities on their human rights and to encourage them to take part in "public and professional life".
It also called on Switzerland to repeal as soon as possible its general ban on the construction of minarets, which it described as discriminatory.
Source: Press Association