The end of one of the most bizarre periods of Ramadan the Uyghur people have ever known is drawing to a close. The Turkic Muslim people living in the area of western China now called Xinjiang were forced by Beijing to forego the month's obligatory fasting, the latest intrusion by authorities into the Uyghur way of life. But at the same time, the plight of the Uyghurs has arguably been receiving the most international attention, well, ever.
His parents knew exactly what they wanted from their son: they called him Famiao, or "produce descendants". Yet when their first grandchild arrived, they refused to step across the courtyard of the family home to see the new baby. Qiaoyue was a girl.
When finally obliged to meet her, "they didn't even wash her face or comb her hair. I was furious," says their daughter-in-law, Chen Xingxiao.
"My father-in-law's friends would ask him, 'How come you haven't brought your grandchild out for a walk?' He would say, 'If it was a boy I would have done. She's a girl, so I won't.'"
It is 5:50 in the morning, and dark shadows scurry through narrow alleys to the mosque, as the call to prayer echoes from a minaret in Kaifeng. This city in central China's Henan province has an Islamic enclave, where Muslims have lived for more than 1,000 years. In an alleyway called Wangjia hutong, women go to their own mosque, where Yao Baoxia leads prayers. For 14 years, Yao has been a female imam, or ahong as they are called here, a word derived from Persian.
An ethnic Uyghur woman in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region who was scheduled to undergo a second-term abortion against her will—and whose case drew international attention—has been released to her family and allowed to continue her pregnancy.