Shereen Ali is beautiful, young and outgoing. She loves hanging out at Beirut's hip cafes and, like other women in her crowd, she's a stickler for the latest fashions.
What sets the first-year medical student apart from her girlfriends is the head scarf, or hijab, she always wears — and is careful to match with whatever tight ankle-length skirt and fitted, long-sleeved blouse she has picked out that day.
"Every morning I wake up, I am aware of my hijab identity," says Ali, 21. "I have to be, because it determines the way I behave toward people and them toward me.
"I always feel I have to prove to them that my wearing the hijab doesn't mean that I am a fanatic, close-minded or backward or even an extremist, but that I'm very much like them."