06/04/2014 01:43 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:59 EDT

Pleas for religious tolerance at funeral for Mehdi Ali Qamar, doctor gunned down in Pakistan

A Canadian cardiologist slain by gunmen in Pakistan is being remembered as a selfless humanitarian who was
targeted for belonging to a religious minority.

A burial ceremony for Mehdi Ali Qamar saw impassioned calls for Ottawa to pressure the Pakistani government to better protect religious minorities against extremism.

Qamar, an Ahmadiyya Muslim who had returned to the country to do volunteer work at a hospital, was gunned down May 26 in central Pakistan in front of his wife and two-year-old son.

His nephew, Nasir Chaudhary, read a family statement calling Qamar a "real servant of humanity who never discriminated against his patients."

Relatives remembered him for always cracking jokes and penning poems about his love of life.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada president Lal Khan Malik said Qamar was "murdered because of his faith" and said the Harper government must urge Pakistan to "stand up to extremists and promote freedom of religion."

Malik said "there is a patten to these murders," saying 137 other Ahmadiyyas have been killed in the south Asian country in the last four years.

"His murder is a direct result of the state-sponsored extremism that is practised in Pakistan."

Malik said Qamar, who lived in Ohio the last 10 years, "redeemed mankind through his good works."