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Tens of thousands bid farewell to Irans Raisi ahead of burial

Published : Friday, 24 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 246

Tens of thousands bid farewell to Irans Raisi ahead of burial

Tens of thousands bid farewell to Irans Raisi ahead of burial

TEHRAN, May 23: Tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets Thursday to bid farewell to president Ebrahim Raisi ahead of his burial in his home town after he was killed in a helicopter crash.
Raisi, 63, died on Sunday alongside his foreign minister and six others when their helicopter went down in the countrys mountainous northwest while returning from a dam inauguration.
Men and women, who were mostly dressed in black chadors and carrying white flowers, thronged the main boulevard of Mashhad, the Islamic republics second city in the northeast where Raisi was born.
Some held aloft placards paying tribute to Raisi as the "man of the battlefield" as a large truck carrying his body drove through the sea of mourners.
"I have come, O king, give me refuge," said a slogan emblazoned on top of the truck, in reference to Imam Reza, the eighth imam of Shiite Islam.
Posters of Raisi, black flags and Shiite symbols were erected along the streets of Mashhad, particularly around Raisis final resting place -- the Imam Reza shrine, a key mausoleum visited by millions of pilgrims every year.
Earlier thousands of people holding images of Raisi and waving flags lined the streets of Birjand, capital of the eastern province of South Khorasan, for the procession of Raisis coffin.
Raisi was South Khorasans representative in the Assembly of Experts, a clerical body in charge of selecting or dismissing Irans supreme leader.
Raisi had widely been expected to succeed supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who led prayers in Tehran on Wednesday for the late president and knelt before the coffins of the eight people killed in the helicopter crash.
Among them was foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who was buried Thursday in the shrine of Shah Abdol-Azim in the town of Shahre Ray south of the capital.
Iranian officials and foreign dignitaries paid their respects to the late top diplomat at a ceremony in Tehran ahead of the burial.
Massive crowds had gathered for a funeral procession in the Iranian capital on Wednesday to pay their final respects to the president, whom officials and media dubbed a     "martyr".
Irans conservative newspapers carried large front-page pictures of the gathering on Thursday, hailing the ceremonies as an "Epic farewell" and saying Raisi would forever remain "In the hearts of the people".
Reformist dailies such as Sazandegi carried headlines that read: "The last farewell".
Tunisian President Kais Saied and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani attended an afternoon ceremony for Raisi on Wednesday in which around 60 countries took part, according to the official news agency IRNA.
Member countries of the European Union were among the absentees of the ceremony, while some non-member countries, including Belarus and Serbia had representatives.
The leaders of the Iran-led "axis of resistance" regional militant groups also came to the Islamic republic for the funeral.
Among them were Ismail Haniyeh, leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamass political bureau in Qatar, and senior members of Lebanons Hezbollah movement and Yemens Huthi rebels as well as representatives of Islamic Jihad and Iraqi militant groups.
They met on the sidelines of the funeral with General Hossein Salami, commander of Irans Revolutionary Guards, and Esmail Qaani, head of the Guards foreign operations arm, the Quds Force, for talks on the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.
Khamenei, who wields ultimate authority in Iran, declared five days of national mourning after Sundays helicopter crash and assigned vice president Mohammad Mokhber, 68, as caretaker president until a June 28 election for Raisis successor.
A presidential election in Iran had not been expected until next year, and the crash has caused some uncertainty as to who will succeed Raisi, with some expressing concern about the upcoming president.
"How do I find someone like him? Im really worried about that," said 31-year-old cleric Mohsen at Wednesdays gathering in Tehran. "As far as I know, we don have anyone of his stature."    —AFP






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