President Iran’s Helicopter Crash and others killed

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Clad in black, mourners commenced assembling on Tuesday for a series of funerals and processions honoring Iran’s late president, foreign minister, and other victims of a recent helicopter crash.

These government-organized ceremonies are designed not only to pay tribute to the deceased but also to demonstrate resilience in the face of regional instability.

Guard General Qassem Soleiman

For Iran’s Shiite theocracy, large-scale demonstrations have played a vital role since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when millions flooded Tehran’s streets to greet Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and mourned his death a decade later.

In 2020, approximately one million people participated in the processions for the late Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad.

Presidential Election History

It remains uncertain whether President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and others will attract a similar turnout, especially considering Raisi’s controversial tenure. Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash, assumed office after the lowest voter turnout in Iran’s presidential election history and enforced widespread crackdowns on dissent.

Prosecutors have cautioned the public against expressing any joy over his death, and a significant security presence has been observed on Tehran’s streets since the incident.

President

However, Raisi, who was 63, had been considered a potential successor to Iran’s 85-year-old supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. His untimely death complicates the succession process, especially since there is no clear clerical candidate for the presidency with the upcoming elections scheduled for June 28.

Middle East Institute

Raisi’s death occurs at a time when the Islamist regime is firmly consolidated,” observed Alex Vatanka, an Iran expert at the Middle East Institute. “Although there won’t be a power vacuum in Tehran, the future of Iran after Khamenei now appears much more uncertain than it did just a few days ago.

On Tuesday morning, a solemn procession commenced in downtown Tabriz, led by a semi-truck transporting the caskets of the deceased from Sunday’s tragic crash site nearby. Thousands of mourners clad in black walked slowly alongside the coffins, some tenderly tossing flowers towards them.

Loudspeaker

At the same time, an emotional emcee paid tribute to the departed through a loudspeaker, hailing them as martyrs. The funerary proceedings will continue on Wednesday, with a funeral overseen by Khamenei, expected to transition into another solemn procession.

Readmore Ebrahim Raisi Iranian President Confirmed dead in helicopter crash

The caskets were later received by an honor guard at Tehran’s airport before their journey continued to the revered Shiite seminary city of Qom. Following their visit to Qom, they will return to the Iranian capital, Tehran.

“I’m hesitant to offer condolences while Iran continues to deploy drones that harm civilians in Ukraine,” expressed Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis on the social platform X.

President Raisi’s regime has been responsible for the deaths of thousands within Iran and has targeted individuals both in Britain and across Europe. I cannot mourn him,” echoed United Kingdom Security Minister Tom Tugendhat in his message on X.

United Kingdom Security Minister

On Thursday, a procession, funeral, and burial will take place in Raisi’s hometown of Birjand, followed by interment at the Imam Reza shrine in the sacred city of Mashhad. Mashhad is the final resting place of the only Imam of the Shiite faith buried in Iran.

President Mohammad-Ali Rajai

The Imam Reza shrine has been a significant pilgrimage site, attracting millions of visitors annually. Throughout history, it has served as the final resting place for revered figures in Persian history, symbolizing an extraordinary and esteemed honor within the faith.

Iranian President Mohammad-Ali Rajai, the only other president to die in office due to a 1981 bombing, was laid to rest in Tehran.

Iran’s theocratic government announced five days of mourning and urged the public to participate in mourning sessions. Traditionally, these events draw large crowds of government employees and schoolchildren, while others attend out of patriotism, curiosity, or a desire to witness significant historical moments.

Rural Population

Throughout Iran, the rural population often exhibits stronger adherence to the Shiite faith and support for the government. However, in Tehran, opinions of Raisi and his government’s policies have differed significantly, with the capital experiencing widespread protests against them for years.

In 2022, protests erupted following the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who was detained for reportedly not wearing her headscarf properly, and the ensuing months witnessed a severe security crackdown, resulting in the deaths of over 500 individuals and the detention of more than 22,000 people. In March, a United Nations investigative panel concluded that Iran was accountable for the “physical violence” leading to Amini’s demise.

Concurrently, Iran’s rial currency has plummeted following the collapse of the nuclear deal with world powers, causing significant financial hardships for citizens, including the erosion of savings and pensions.

Anti-Government

Following news of the helicopter crash on Sunday night, there were reports of anti-government chants echoing through the streets. Fireworks lit up the sky in certain areas of the capital. However, it’s worth noting that Sunday also coincided with a remembrance for Imam Reza, during which fireworks are commonly set off. Additionally, critical messages and dark humor regarding the crash circulated widely on online platforms.

According to the semiofficial ISNA news agency, Iran’s top prosecutor has issued an order instructing cases to be filed against individuals who are found to be disseminating false content, lies, or insults against President Raisi and the other victims of the crash.

Iran’s government has not yet provided a cause for the crash, which occurred in a foggy mountain range involving a decades-old helicopter. It’s noteworthy that previous Iranian presidents, including hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Abolhasan Banisadr, survived their helicopter accidents while in office.

According to authorities, Iran’s military, rather than its civil aviation authority, will investigate the crash and subsequently provide a report.

This decision comes in light of widespread international criticism directed at Iran’s civil air crash investigators following their handling of reports on the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane by an air defense battery in 2020, which occurred after the killing of Soleimani.

Leader Mohammad Ali Ale-Heshem

On Tuesday, Iran’s recently elected Assembly of Experts convened its inaugural session. This assembly, of which both President Raisi and the late Tabriz Friday leader Mohammad Ali Ale-Heshem were members, was formed following an election.

A flower-adorned portrait was placed on the seat designated for President Raisi, symbolizing his presence at the meeting of the 88-member panel. This assembly holds the responsibility of selecting Iran’s next supreme leader. Acting President Mohammad Mokhber was also in attendance at the session.

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