The brother of a Canadian-American cardiologist who was murdered by religous extremists in Pakistan said that the persecution will not stop him from returning to his home country.
“This is our community and we have that spirit that we have to fight this aggression,” Hadi Ali Chaudhry said at the burial ceremony of his sibling, Mehdi Ali Qamar, on Wednesday.
Dr. Qamar, 51, was killed by two men on motorbikes near his father’s grave and in front of his wife and youngest child while visiting Pakistan last week, where he was volunteering at a hospital for patients who cannot afford treatment.
Dr. Qamar’s death has left the diaspora Pakistani community torn apart and divided. Some will never go back, others see returning to their home country as their duty – all are demanding a new Pakistan and help from Canada and the United States to make it happen.
Dr. Qamar’s family has said he was killed for being a follower of the minority Ahmadi Muslim sect, which is outlawed in the country’s constitution and considered non-Muslim.
About one million people follow the Ahmadi faith globally, and 137 others have been murdered in Pakistan in the past four years. Dr. Qamar was the 10th person in his family to be killed for following the religion.
Such risks mean not everyone in the Ahmadi community is so willing to return.
Naseem Rehmatullah, a physician based in Ohio who worked with Dr. Qamar for about a decade, said he would not go back to Pakistan as is.
“Now my mother is here, so I have no reason to go back,” he said. “There’s nothing there for me … I’m an American.”
Dr. Rehmatullah said he would like Canadian and U.S. officials to press Pakistan to curb the violence that ended his friend’s life.
Conservative MP Chungsen Leung noted that there are limits to Canada’s reach, and that all it can do right now is help those fleeing religious persecution immigrate to Canada.
Dr. Qamar was born in Pakistan, but moved to Toronto in 1994 to attend university. He spent the past several years working and living in Ohio with his wife and three children, and was planning to move back to Toronto next year.
His family will return to the Toronto area in the coming months.