Thousands of people bid farewell to President Raïssi

Thousands of people bid farewell to President Raïssi
Thousands of people bid farewell to President Raïssi
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May 23, 2024 – 7:47 p.m.

(Keystone-ATS) Iranian President Ebrahim Raïssi, who died on Sunday in a helicopter accident, was buried Thursday in his hometown of Mashhad (north-east), where hundreds of thousands of people paid him their last respects.

This ceremony will close the three days of funerals which brought together huge crowds in the tradition of the major events that have occurred in Iran since the Islamic revolution of 1979.

Once the five days of mourning have passed, the authorities, notably interim President Mohammad Mokhber, 68, will focus on organizing the presidential election set for June 28.

Political uncertainties are high since no personality has so far emerged to represent the conservative camp currently in power. The submission of presidential candidacies will officially open on May 30 and the electoral campaign will begin on June 12.

Brandished photos

In Macchad, men of all ages, women, most wearing chadors, and children walked along the avenue that leads to the mausoleum of Imam Reza, the country’s main Shiite shrine.

Most of them held up photos of the deceased and carried white flowers, traditionally used in funerals in Iran.

They accompanied the coffin, placed on board a truck on which was inscribed: “I have come, O king, give me shelter”, the king designating Imam Reza, eighth Shiite imam.

The city’s mayor, Mohammad Reza Qalandar Sharif, said three million people took part in the procession. No independent assessment was available.

Raisi, who has presided over Iran since 2021, died at the age of 63 in the fall of the helicopter which was taking him to Tabriz (northwest) on Sunday after attending the joint inauguration of a dam with his Azerbaijani counterpart , Ilham Aliev, on their common border. Seven other people, including the head of diplomacy, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, were killed in the crash.

The day before in Tehran, a crowd estimated at more than a million people by official media gathered in the center to pay a final tribute to the president, in the presence of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, surrounded by the most high authorities of the country, in particular the interim president Mohammad Mokhber.

Publishing photos of the crowd on the front page, conservative dailies hailed on Thursday “epic farewells”, “farewells to paradise” for the late president, forever “in the hearts of the people”, according to the Iranian government newspaper. More soberly, the reformist dailies carried headlines, like Sazandegi and Sharq, on “the last farewell” or the “collective sorrow” of the Iranians.

Anti-Israel meeting

Leaders from countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, including Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, attended a tribute ceremony in the afternoon, which included represented around sixty countries.

The Tunisian President, Kaïs Saïed, the first leader of this country to visit Iran since the revolution, was received by Ayatollah Khamenei.

No European Union country was represented at the ceremony, while Iran’s relations with Western countries remain very tense.

Ambassadors stationed in Tehran attended a ceremony in Tehran on Thursday morning in tribute to Amir-Abdollahian, who was later buried near the capital.

On the sidelines of the ceremonies, representatives of the “axis of resistance” groups against Israel held a meeting, state television Irib said. Present for Iran were General Hossein Salami, commander of the Revolutionary Guards, and General Esmaïl Qaani, commander of the Quds Force.

They discussed “the political, social and military situation in Gaza,” where Israel has been fighting the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas since the start of the war on October 7 in the Gaza Strip, and “the struggle until complete victory of Palestinian resistance with the participation of all groups of the axis of resistance” in the region was highlighted.

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