“A brave little soldier. It’s so hard…to see him just gunned down by someone who didn’t care about anyone or anything. I know where he is. I know he’s at peace.” These were the words of Sayyad’s father, John Milne upon hearing that his fourteen year old son Sayyad was seen among the victims at the Christchurch Al Noor Mosque shooting. A student at Cashmere High School, Sayyad was described by his school principal, Mark Wilson, as being a kid with a big heart, kind eyes as well as being a skilled goalkeeper and aspiring footballer. Sayyad’s friends at school beautifully illustrated their grief at his loss by holding three separate assemblies attended by more than two thousand students. At the vigil they chose to sing the waiata, a style of melancholic Māori which is the traditional music of New Zealand.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern visited the school and spoke to the children saying: “Yes, there will be interest in the terrorist who did this. Don’t say his name. Don’t dwell on who he is.” She continued: “You know some of the young people who lost their lives on Friday, it’s their names and their stories we need to keep telling.”
Sayyad is of Singaporean descent, even though he lived in New Zealand. He visited Singapore a few times and may have planned to continue his college education there. His relatives described him as a lover of nature and all things outdoors.
On the day of the attack, Ms Noraini Abbas and her son Sayyad Milne both went into their respective prayer halls at the mosque. Upon hearing gunshots, Ms Noraini feared for her son’s life but could not take any action. When the gunshots stopped, she quickly rushed to look for the boy only to be met with piles and piles of dead bodies, covered in blood and lying all around the religious center. Shocked and distraught, she couldn’t find him. Sayyad had vanished, he wasn’t among the wounded in the hospital that night, at which point his parents were sure that the worst had happened. Sayyad, an ambitious young man with big dreams of becoming a professional footballer, was martyred in the dreadful terrorist attack.
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