HomeFOREIGNThousands Gather in Tehran to Mourn President Raisi, Others After Fatal Helicopter...

Thousands Gather in Tehran to Mourn President Raisi, Others After Fatal Helicopter Crash

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Thousands of Iranians filled the streets of Tehran on Wednesday to participate in the funeral procession for President Ebrahim Raisi and his entourage, who perished in a helicopter crash.

In the heart of the city, mourners holding portraits of Raisi congregated at the University of Tehran, where Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, conducted the prayer service.

Surrounded by senior officials, Khamenei prayed over the coffins, which also included that of Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

The procession saw the participation of notable figures such as Ismail Haniyeh, leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, and Naim Qassem, deputy leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

“I say once again… we are sure that the Islamic Republic of Iran will continue its support for the Palestinian people,” Haniyeh told the crowd to chants of “Death to Israel”.

On Sunday, President Ebrahim Raisi’s helicopter crashed into a foggy mountainside in northwestern Iran as he returned to Tabriz after attending a ceremony near the Azerbaijan border.

A massive search and rescue effort was launched, with assistance from Turkey, Russia, and the European Union. State television announced Raisi’s death on Monday morning.

Raisi, who was anticipated to succeed Ayatollah Khamenei as supreme leader, was 63 years old.

In Tehran, large banners have been erected honoring the late president as “the martyr of service,” while others expressed farewell to “the servant of the disadvantaged.” Residents received messages urging them to attend the funeral of “the martyr of service.”

The coffins will be transported from the university to Enghelab Square and then to Azadi Square, according to state media.

Funeral ceremonies for Raisi and his entourage started on Tuesday with processions through Tabriz and Qom, drawing tens of thousands of mourners dressed in black.

From Tehran, the bodies will be taken to Mashhad, Raisi’s hometown, where he will be buried on Thursday evening after rites at the Imam Reza shrine.

Ayatollah Khamenei declared five days of national mourning and appointed Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, 68, as caretaker president until the election for Raisi’s successor on June 28.

Ali Bagheri, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator and Amir-Abdollahian’s deputy, has been named acting foreign minister.

The chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, Mohammad Bagheri, has ordered an investigation into the helicopter crash.

Raisi was elected president in 2021, succeeding moderate Hassan Rouhani, during a time of severe economic strain due to US sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program.

His presidency saw widespread protests, worsening economic conditions, and increased tensions with Israel.

After his death, condolences were sent from global allies such as Russia and China, as well as NATO, while the UN Security Council observed a minute of silence.

Condolences also came from regional allies, including the Syrian government, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

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