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Sberbank to Buy 25% Stake in Muslim Charity Platform PayZakat

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Russian state-controlled lender Sberbank will buy 25% of PayZakat, an online platform that collects charity for Muslims in need, the bank announced on Tuesday, according to VC.ru.

Zakat is a form of alms-giving treated in Islam as a religious obligation or tax, which, by Quranic ranking, is next after prayer in importance. Global zakat collections reach $500 billion a year.

PayZakat allows its users to calculate the contribution amount, and channel it to the charity of their choice, with the help of chat bots integrated into the social networks, as well as to receive status updates on the contribution, Intellinews wrote.

Sberbank sees global and universal potential for PayZakat, the start-up that was the first winner of the bank’s corporate accelerator Sber#Up for its own employees.

Previously in 2017 the bank considered establishing an Islamic Finance unit and proposing regulatory changes that would make running sharia-compliant deals in Russia possible. There are about 20mn Muslims among Russian population of 145mn.

Sberbank is at the forefront of Russian digital development, having adopted an ambitious digitally-driven strategy and preparing to launch its Sber digital ecosystem in short- to medium-term. The bank was also the anchor organizer of a recent meeting with the President Vladimir Putin on AI development, which was paired with an establishment of a $2 billion AI investment fund by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

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French police suicides on the rise

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Three riot police officers, a police commander, a police academy teacher, are among eight French police officers who have taken their life killed themselves recently. That makes 64 so far this year, and the number keeps on climbing.

Deaths by suicide for French police now outnumber deaths in the line of duty. The protectors need protecting, say police unions, which are demanding more help to stop the problem.

Many of those who choose to end their lives are from everywhere in France and of all ages, many with young children. The latest death came Wednesday in the Ardeche region in southeast France. Why they step across what one police union calls the “thin blue line” remains a question that French authorities have so far been unable to answer.

A parliamentary inquiry made public in July lists a multitude of reasons for the stress and despair among French police, including overwork since a series of terrorist attacks that started in January 2015 and the weekly, often extremely violent, anti-government protests since November by the yellow vest movement seeking more economic and social justice. It does not single out any one reason.

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Another Bird Strike Causes Utair Flight to Return to Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport

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A Utair airliner headed from Moscow to Ufa, the capital of Russia’s Bashkortostan Region, returned to its departure airport on Friday after a bird hit its windshield, the air carrier’s press service informed TASS.

“The Moscow-Ufa flight returned to Vnukovo after suffering a bird strike shortly after takeoff. A bird hit its windshield. The aircraft landed safely. The airline is changing the plane,” the press service stated.

It noted that the flight to Ufa is scheduled to depart at 15:30 Moscow time.

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At Least 5 Killed, 11 Injured in Blast in Pakistan’s Balochistan

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At least five people were killed and 11 others injured on Friday in an explosion that occurred in Pakistan’s Balochistan province at an Islamic school or madrassa, the Pakistani media reported.

According to Pakistani news website Dawn, the nature of the blast could not immediately be ascertained. The injured in the explosion were transported to Quetta Civil Hospital.

A local police official told media that the IED blast occurred at around 1525 hrs local time and video showed that the explosion caused extensive damage to the madrassa.

Since June this year, the frequencies of attacks have increased. On 23 July, at least three people were killed, and 18 were injured in a bomb attack in the Eastern Bypass area. On 30 July, five people were killed, and 30 people were injured in an attack at a police station.

Earlier this year, Pakistan deployed an army division to protect interests in Sino-Pakistan development projects including those in the Balochistan region.

Pakistan has been facing an insurgency in Balochistan since 1947, with Baloch nationalist organisations struggling to create an independent state. The Balochi are also a dominant ethnic minority in Iran and Afghanistan.

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