The azan (Islamic call to prayer) rang loud across New Zealand today in remembrance and solidarity with the country’s Muslim community and to honor the 50 people killed at two mosques in Christchurch just a week ago.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joined thousands of people to observe a two-minute moment of silence in ceremonies held today near Al-Noor Mosque, one of the sites of the shootings conducted by a self-proclaimed white supremacist. But it was yesterday that 14-year-old Sayyad Milne — the son of Singaporean woman Noraini Abbas — was laid to rest at Christchurch’s Memorial Park Cemetery.
A pupil at Cashmere High School, he was one of the many Muslim worshippers gunned down at Al-Noor, the first location where the gunman opened fire at men, women, and children.
In a report by Singaporean Malay-language publication Berita Harian, Noraini recounted how she hid from the gunman in a small storeroom. A New Zealand resident of over 20 years, the mother had visited the mosque with Sayyad for prayers last Friday. While Noraini was in the women’s prayer section, she heard gunshots ring out and hid out of sight — only rushing out to look for her son once the gunshots died down.
“I did not see him. I only saw dead bodies lying stiff, bodies lying on top of each other,” she told Berita Harian. “I was stunned, in disbelief that this is happening in New Zealand.”
Unable to find him at the hospital that night, Sayyad’s parents received confirmation of his death the next day.
Daily Mail reported that his father fought back tears as he read an emotional letter about Sayyad yesterday during the burial ceremony.
“My special little one who had to battle just to live right from the beginning. He was meant to be. Now there is a bigger hole in my heart than the one that bullet blew out of the exit point of it. He is a battler.”
Milne mentioned that the support the family has received in Christchurch had been “truly humbling”, reported The New Zealand Herald.
“[The gunman] wanted to bring us all down but he has bought us all together. People have come from all over. They don’t know what to say but they just hug us.”
Hundreds of mourners took turns throwing handfuls of dirt into his grave, as customary in Muslim burials rites.
His schoolmates at Cashmere High School remembered Sayyad as a kind and caring friend who had dreams of being a professional football player.
This article, Singaporean woman’s son who was gunned down in NZ massacre laid to rest in Christchurch cemetery, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!