Canada on Friday joined its Ahmadiyya Muslim community in condemning the massacre by Pakistani Taliban of 70 members of the minority sect in two Lahore mosques. There are about 50,000 Ahmadiyyas in Canada.
At a condolence meeting in Toronto, Lal Khan Malik, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat in Canada, said, "Once again, seeds of hatred sown by fanatical clergy and supported by the Pakistani government have resulted in death of innocents Ahmadiyyas.
"Each year, Ahmadiyya Muslims are being martyred in Pakistan for no reason other than their faith."
The condolence meeting, attended by Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said the massacre "represents a serious escalation in the continuing official persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Pakistan, a persecution that has been noted and documented by numerous human rights agencies and governments around the world."
Dr Aslam Daud, general secretary of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, said, "We request Canada and the international community to put pressure on Pakistan to immediately stop violence against our people."
Ensuring the community on behalf of the prime minister, Kenney said Canada will ensure that those behind the massacre are brought to justice.
Later, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said in a statement that Canada is urging "the Pakistani authorities to ensure equal rights for members of minority communities, and we hope that the perpetrators of this horrendous attack are brought to justice. We will continue to work with Pakistan and our allies to help Pakistan address the challenges it faces."
A high-profile group among the one-million Muslim community in Canada, the Ahmadiyyas inaugurated North America's largest mosque in Calgary two years ago. Open to people of all faiths and built at a cost of $15 million, the Baitun Nur mosque is spread over 48,000 square feet.
Outlawed as un-Islamic in Pakistan in 1984, the community claims 70 million followers worldwide.