Iranian President Raisi: Days of funeral ceremonies begin as investigators probe helicopter crash



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The body of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in Tehran as part of funeral ceremonies scheduled for several days, according to state news agency IRNA.

A video broadcast by state media shows the presidential plane arriving at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport, carrying Raisi’s coffin. Government and military officials lined a red carpet, and many could be seen publicly weeping as a military escort carried the coffin.

According to images published by state media, a seat on the presidential plane was left empty, covered only with a black cloth and on it a photo of Raisi.

Raisi, a 63-year-old ultraconservative cleric once seen as a potential successor to current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, died in a helicopter crash along with other high-ranking officials, including the country’s foreign minister, the Sunday morning.

His death leaves the Islamic Republic’s hardline establishment facing an uncertain future as it navigates rising regional tensions and internal discontent.

WANA/Reuters

Mourners during the funeral ceremony in the city of Tabriz on Tuesday.

Tuesday began with funeral prayers and a procession in the northwestern city of Tabriz, the largest city in Iran’s northwestern mountainous region where the helicopter crashed.

Images published by state media showed large crowds dressed in black lining Martyrs’ Square and surrounding streets in the rain as a large truck, adorned with flowers and draped in the Iranian flag, moved through the crowd carrying the coffins of Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir. Abdollahian and the others died in Sunday’s helicopter crash.

In a speech in Tabriz on Tuesday, Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said Raisi and Amir-Abdollahian “establish a model of courageous service and diplomacy,” pointing to the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

“Who can forget Raisi’s sincere speeches in defense of Gaza?” Vahidi said, IRNA reported.

The bodies of the victims will then be taken to the Shiite holy city of Qom, where many of the clerics who make up Iran’s theocratic elite are trained, for scheduled prayers at the Fatima Masumeh shrine.

Large ceremonies are planned for Wednesday at Tehran’s Mosallah Grand Mosque. Mansouri announced a public holiday and the closure of offices across the country on that day so that processions can take place.

Raisi’s body will then be moved to the historic shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad, where Ayatollah Khamenei will lead prayers, according to Mehr News.

There is no indication what may have caused the crash and why so many senior Iranian government officials were traveling in a single decades-old helicopter.

In the first moments after Raisi’s helicopter lost contact on Sunday night, Turkey said it monitored whether the plane was giving a “signal” or not, but could not detect anything.

Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Mourners gathered in Valiasr Square in central Tehran on Monday.

Majid Asgaripour/WANA/Reuters

A billboard in Tehran showing a photo of Raisi.

“We immediately contacted the Iranian side. They also contacted us, but unfortunately it was seen that the signal system was turned off or the helicopter did not have the signal system,” Turkish Transport and Infrastructure Minister Abdulkadir Uraloglu said, according to Turkish state broadcaster TRT. .

It was unclear whether he was referring to the helicopter’s transponder, which the vast majority of aircraft are equipped with.

Ali Hamed Haghdoust/Wana News Agency/Reuters

A helicopter carrying the president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, took off on May 19, 2024, before the accident occurred.

When asked if there was a possibility of sabotage, Uraloglu said it was too early to comment on this issue and said initial indications looked like an accident due to fog.

On Monday, Iranian media reported that the country’s military chief had appointed a commission to investigate the cause of the accident, which includes military and technical experts.

A high-ranking delegation will go to the crash site in eastern Azerbaijan, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.



01:58 – Source: CNN

Iran mourns the death of President Ebrahim Raisi

The loss of Raisi, a hardline conservative and Ayatollah Khamenei protégé, is expected to sow more uncertainty in a country already under significant economic and political strain, with tensions with nearby Israel at a dangerous level.

His death sparked both domestic and international reactions, with several of Iran’s autocratic partners sending effusive condolences and praise. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese leader Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued statements praising Raisi’s legacy and hailing him as a “friend.”

In his message, Kim described Raisi as “an outstanding statesman and a close friend of the (North Korean) people,” adding that the leader had “made a great contribution to the cause of the Iranian people to safeguard sovereignty, development and interests of Iran. his country,” according to North Korean state media KCNA.

Azin Haghighi/Moj News Agency/AP

A photo provided by Moj news agency shows rescue team workers at the site of the helicopter crash on May 20, 2024.

Xi, whose government last year played a role in brokering a historic rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, praised Raisi’s “important contributions to maintaining Iran’s security and stability and promoting national development and prosperity.”

“Raisi’s tragic death is a great loss for the Iranian people, and the Chinese people also lost a good friend,” Xi said in a statement carried by Chinese state media, adding that the two countries will continue to “consolidate and deepen “its strategic relationships. camaraderie.

Putin, who the United States says receives support from Iran for its war in Ukraine, called the Iranian leader an “outstanding politician” and a “true friend of Russia.” Raisi made “an invaluable personal contribution” to the development of relations between the countries, according to Putin’s statement released by the Kremlin.

The comments come as observers have pointed to weak but growing coordination of interests between Iran, China, North Korea and Russia over their shared animosity toward a global system they see as dominated by the United States and its values.

Inside Iran, where many of the country’s restless youth have grown tired of rule by conservative clerics, Raisi had a much more polarizing legacy.

He was widely seen as a figure in whom the hardline Iranian establishment had invested heavily. He but he also brutally suppressed a youth-led uprising against repressive laws, such as mandatory hijab, and continued to crush dissent afterwards.