Half the Xinjiang Sky

On July 7, 2009, two days after violence rocked Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, in a rare and daring show of public protest, Uyghur women stepped forward to demand the return of their men who were arrested in large numbers by Chinese police.

Women of all ages, wearing Islamic scarf as well as high heels and sexy tee-shirts, poured in the streets, raising their fists and screaming in the face of a momentarily frightened police.

As the authorities launched a sweeping security crackdown, the women risked arrest by speaking out. “Of course the first thing they want is justice. They want all the Uyghur men free. But I think they fight for freedom, for dignity,” said one Uyghur woman interviewed on video by Radio Free Asia allowing a rare look into the psyche of women of the Muslim faith living in Central Asia.