Excerpt:

A series of highly publicized incidents involving Muslim women have reinforced popular perceptions that an intolerant, sexist brand of Islam is taking root in France - home to Europe's largest Muslim community. From Paris, Lisa Bryant reports for VOA that Muslims and experts argue Muslim women are often wrongly stereotyped.

Like most young women, Wafa Ben Salem goes out to movies and dinner, dates men - albeit usually with a chaperone - and is a self-avowed fashion maven. Still, she is a far cry from many of today's young women in France - in her body-covering clothes, the headscarf tied under her chin and Ben Salem's personal vow not to have sex before marriage.

A university student from southern France, Ben Salem says Islam frowns on women who are not virgins before they marry. And, as a practicing Muslim, she says she will abide its strictures. She says she may meet and date men and she will pick her own husband. But she says will remain chaste until she ties the knot.

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