Around 50 people attended a candlelight vigil in front of Calgary City Hall to protest against the execution of a prominent Shia cleric and call on Canada to stand up for human rights.

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who led demonstrations during the Arab Spring in 2011, was one of 47 people executed by Saudi Arabia last weekend.

"Sheikh Nimr paid for his faith with his life," said Brian Seaman, who attended the vigil on Wednesday, saying it was something small he could do from the safety of Canada.

"These are the truly courageous ones — people who stand up for human rights and freedoms in places of the world where indeed the price for speaking out is paying your life," Seaman said.

The vigil was organized by the Hussaini Association of Calgary, a local Shia Muslim community group.

They also want the federal government to take action on Saudi Arabia's human rights record.

The execution has sparked protests around the world, and triggered a growing diplomatic dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran.