Thursday, May 23, 2024
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President Raisi Laid to rest in His Hometown

Ebrahim Raisi was laid to rest inside the Imam Reza Shrine, one of the holiest places in Shia Islam

Iran’s president was laid to rest in his hometown on Thursday, capping days of funeral observances after his death in a helicopter crash left the country without one of its highest-profile leaders.

The deceased president, Ebrahim Raisi, was buried at the Imam Reza shrine in the northeastern city of Mashhad, one of the holiest sites of Shiite Islam. Large crowds gathered under the shrine’s gilded dome.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, announced five days of mourning after Mr. Raisi, 63, and the country’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, 60, died along with five others when their helicopter plunged into a mountainous area near the Iranian city of Jolfa on Sunday.

Ayatollah Khamenei led funeral prayers on Wednesday for Mr. Raisi and the other victims of the crash before the coffins were driven through the packed streets of Tehran in a large-scale procession. An array of foreign dignitaries came to pay their respects, as did the leaders of two Iran-backed militant groups, Hamas and Hezbollah.

Several had private sit-downs with the supreme leader, who that night visited Mr. Raisi’s family at their home, according to the state news media.

The Iranian authorities have sought to project stability since the crash, emphasizing that the governing of the country will not be affected. An interim president, Mohammad Mokhber, and an interim foreign minister, Ali Bagheri Kani, were quickly appointed.

A hard-line cleric who came of age during the country’s Islamic revolution, Mr. Raisi was viewed as a potential successor to Ayatollah Khamenei, 85. His death requires new presidential elections — which the authorities have set for June 28 — and could also shift the dynamics around the selection of Ayatollah Khamenei’s successor.

On Thursday morning, Mr. Raisi’s body was flown from Tehran to the eastern city of Birjand for a funeral procession. Photos and videos posted by state news media showed a smaller crowd in Birjand compared with the tens of thousands who had thronged the streets of the capital a day earlier.

In the meantime, Mr. Raisi’s family flew to Mashhad, a state news agency reported, as did Iran’s interior minister, Ahmad Vahidi. When Mr. Raisi’s coffin arrived in the holy city, large crowds filled the streets, forming a sea of people. Some carried photographs of the president and others threw flowers at the truck carrying his coffin to the historic shrine.

A separate ceremony took place in Tehran at the foreign ministry for Mr. Amir Abdollahian, followed by an interment. State news media showed his coffin, wrapped in an Iranian flag and bearing his photograph, being carried through a crowd. State media reported that the acting president, Mr. Mokhber, was in attendance for the burial at a shrine south of Tehran.

Before his death, Mr. Amir Abdollahian had been engaged in a flurry of diplomacy with regional Arab countries to forge closer ties, manage the wider conflict with Israel and conduct indirect talks with the United States.

In an apparent attempt to show that Iran was pressing ahead with those efforts despite the deaths in the crash, the state news media carried news of a meeting that Mr. Bagheri Kani, the interim foreign minister, held on Thursday with his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates.

Derek Kanalo
the authorDerek Kanalo
News Reporter/ Editor
Am a professionally trained and well skilled media personality. Accuracy is part of my top priority as a journalist.