'We are praying and hoping he will come back'

Mohammad Alayan
Mohammad Alayan
Staff and parents at the Dunedin An-Nur Early Childhood Education and Care Centre are praying its owner will survive after being shot in the Christchurch terror attack.

Dr Mohammad Alayan was critically injured in the attack, which also left his son, Atta Elayyan, dead.

Dr Alayan is now out of ICU, but centre head teacher Rosy Jaforullah said she had spoken to his family, who said he was still fighting for his life.

''He is in a very critical condition. He has had three surgeries and his son died.

''We are praying and hoping he will come back.''

Dr Alayan is well known in the Dunedin Muslim community for his support of Muslim education.

He established the early childhood centre in 2000, and in 2012 he began work on establishing an $8 million secondary boarding school for Muslim boys in South Dunedin, called the An-Nur Kiwi Academy (AKA).

It aimed to educate about 100 year 11-13 boys from across the country at the former St Patrick's Primary School in Melbourne St.

It was supposed to open in 2014, but plans were shelved in 2016 because the Al-Noor Charitable Trust struggled to gain support and funding.

The arrival of Syrian refugees to the city prompted the trust to focus on establishing a Muslim co-educational primary school for the Dunedin community.

Dr Alayan has continued to work on this project.

Ms Jaforullah yesterday described him as a kind, generous, supportive and brave man.

''So many people here will know him. He's so nice and kind. A good man.''

She said he evenly split his time living between Christchurch and Dunedin, and he was a regular face around the centre.

Hearing that someone so close to them had been seriously injured in the attack was difficult to comprehend, she said.

''We are coping somehow.''

Dr Alayan previously said the trust wanted to establish Muslim education in Dunedin because it believed Muslim children at state secular schools were subjected to an educational environment that pressured them to adopt values that contradicted Islamic values, such as the evolution theory, sexual relations outside marriage and drinking alcohol.

The trust aimed to provide high-quality education with an emphasis on Islamic values.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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