Funeral ceremonies across Iran after President Raisi's death

Wednesday, 22 May, 2024
A file photo of President Ebrahim Raisi accepting flowers from students in Iran. (Photo courtesy: X@Iran_GOV)

Tehran: Funeral ceremonies began across Iran for President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and seven other victims of the May 19 helicopter crash in the Varzaghan region of East Azerbaijan province.

Waving Iranian flags and portraits of the late president, tens of thousands of mourners gathered for the ceremony beginning this week in the north-western city of Tabriz to bid farewell, state media reported.

Videos shared by Iranian news agencies showed crowds jostling around an open lorry carrying coffins adorned with flowers driving slowly through the streets. According to the Tasnim agency, Interior Minister Ahmad Wahidi was in the crowd.

Further mourning ceremonies took place in the religious stronghold and pilgrimage city of Qom, as well as in the capital, Tehran, before Raisi's burial on May 23 in the Shiite center of his hometown of Mashhad.


"As Iran selects a new President, we reaffirm our support for the Iranian people and their struggle for human rights and fundamental freedoms." - US State Department statement


Raisi, 63, and Amirabdollahian,60, were killed in a helicopter crash with seven other occupants. They went down in dense fog in the mountains as they traveled from a meeting with Ilham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan. The Iranian Red Crescent said on May 20 that the bodies of Raisi and others had been recovered, and search operations had ended.

The incident comes as Iran under Raisi launched an unprecedented drone-and-missile attack on Israel last month and has enriched uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels. As many suspected the involvement of Israel in the "killing", an Israeli official told Reuters that the country, which is at war with Hamas, was not involved in the death.

Iran has also faced years of mass protests against its Shia theocracy over an ailing economy and women’s rights — making the moment that much more sensitive for Tehran and the future of the country as the Israel-Hamas war inflames the wider Middle East.

 

"As a mark of respect to the departed dignitaries, the government of India has decided that there will be one day's state mourning on May 21 throughout India. On the day of mourning, the national flag will be flown at half-mast throughout India and there will be no official entertainment on the day." - Home Ministry, India

 

Before being elected President in November 2021, Raisi was the chief of the Iranian judiciary. A close ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Raisi, after his controversial election victory, helped the conservatives tighten their grip on Iran’s state and society.

Meanwhile, Khamenei assigned Vice President Mohammad Mokhber to assume interim duties after the death of Raisi. Iran’s veteran nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri, a harsh critic of the West, was named acting foreign minister.

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Iran to hold presidential election on June 28

Iran's government has said the country's 14th presidential election will be held on June 28, local media reports said. According to Article 131 of Iran's Constitution, the first Vice-President will take the helm of the executive branch if the President is not able to perform duties. Also, the interim President is duty-bound to make arrangements for the election of a new President within a maximum of 50 days, Xinhua news agency reported.

Based on the schedule, the registration would be conducted from May 30 to June 3, following which candidates would have to conduct electoral campaigns from June 12 to 27, the report said.

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