Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei hosts prayers for late president

Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei hosts prayers for late president
Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei hosts prayers for late president / bne IntelliNews
By bne Tehran bureau bne Tehran bureau May 22, 2024

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on May 22 led a funeral ceremony at Tehran University for the country's late President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, and others who perished in a helicopter crash.

On May 19, a helicopter carrying the Iranian president made a hard landing in the northwest of the republic near the border with Azerbaijan. In addition to Raisi, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Governor of East Azerbaijan Province Malik Rahmati, and other officials and crew, were on board. They all died.

More than a hundred thousand mourners participated in the procession through Tehran with reports from on the ground of large numbers of people coming out to see the event down the main boulevards of the Iranian capital.

Khamenei conducted the service with the caskets, draped in Iranian flags and adorned with photos of the deceased, prominently displayed.

A black turban placed on Raisi’s coffin signified his status as a direct descendant of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. As Khamenei departed, the crowd surged forward to touch the coffins.

Iran’s acting President Mohammad Mokhber was visibly emotional during the service, standing nearby and weeping openly.

Following the ceremony, mourners carried the coffins on their shoulders, chanting anti-American slogans.

The caskets were then placed on a semitruck trailer for a procession through downtown Tehran to Azadi (Freedom) Square, a site of past speeches by Raisi.

Several foreign dignitaries and leaders have flown to Tehran for the funeral ceremony including Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashiniyan, Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, Iraqi Prime Minister Shia al-Sudani were among them.

High-ranking members of Iran’s paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) attended the funeral, along with Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, the militant group supported by Iran amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.

Prior to the funeral, Haniyeh addressed the crowd, leading chants of “Death to Israel,” with loud chants being heard in the main prayer area.

Haniyeh expressed condolences on behalf of the Palestinian people and Gaza’s resistance factions, recalling a meeting with Raisi during Ramadan.

The Palestinian group leader, who is based in Qatar, was in Tehran as both Ireland and Norway announced the recognition of the State of Palestine.