| BEIJING: Most people of Xinjiang's 10 major ethnic minority groups, with a total population of over 11.3 million, believe in Islam now, said a white paper issued by the Information Office of the State Council Monday.
The number of Islamic mosques has soared from 2,000 in the early days of the reform and opening-up drive to 24,300 now, and the body of clergy from 3,000 to over 28,000, said the white paper titled "Development and Progress in Xinjiang".
The paper said since its founding, the Xinjiang Islamic Institute gives lessons in Uyghur and other minority languages and has trained 489 Imams, Hatips or other teachers for religious schools in the autonomous region. It currently has 161 students. From 2001 to 2008, the Xinjiang Islamic School trained more than 20,000 clerics.
In addition, 3,133 Talips were trained by religious personages, in Islamic schools and classes operated by Islamic associations in the various prefectures and prefecture-level cities. Among them, 1,518 have graduated and 803 taken up clerical posts, it said.
In an attempt to cultivate high-caliber clerical personnel of Islam, since 2001, the regional government has sent 47 clerics for training in colleges and universities in Egypt and Pakistan, according to the paper.