Iran bids tearful adieu to President Raisi, 8 others
   Date :23-May-2024

Iran’s supreme leader Khamenei presides over the funeral procession 
IRAN’S supreme leader presided over a funeral on Wednesday for the country’s late President, Foreign Minister and seven others killed in a helicopter crash, as tens of thousands later followed a procession of their caskets with teary eyes through the capital, Tehran. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei held the service at Tehran University, the caskets of the dead draped in Iranian flags with their pictures on them. On the late President Ebrahim Raisi’s coffin sat a black turban — signifying him as a direct descendent of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. “Oh Allah, we didn’t see anything but good from him,” Khamenei said in the standard prayer for the dead in Arabic, the language of Islam’s holy book, the Quran. He soon left and the crowd inside rushed to the front, reaching out to touch the coffins. Iran’s Acting President, Mohammad Mokhber, stood nearby and openly wept during the service. People then carried the coffins out on their shoulders, with chants outside of “Death to America!” They loaded them onto a semitruck trailer for a procession through downtown Tehran to Azadi, or “Freedom,” Square, where Raisi gave speeches in the past. People threw scarves and other items up for attendants on the truck to touch to the coffins for a blessing.
In attendance were top leaders of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, one of the country’s major power centres. Also on hand was Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, the militant group that Iran has armed and supported during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war raging in the Gaza Strip. Before the funeral, Haniyeh spoke and an emcee led the crowd in the chant: “Death to Israel!” “I come in the name of the Palestinian people, in the name of the resistance factions of Gaza to express our condolences,” Haniyeh told those gathered. He also recounted meeting Raisi in Tehran during Razdan, the holy Muslim fasting month, and heard the President say, the Palestinian issue remains the key one of the Muslim world. The Muslim world “must fulfill their obligations to the Palestinians to liberate their land,” Haniyeh said, recounting Raisi’s words. He also described Raisi calling the October 7 attack that sparked the war, which saw 1,200 people killed and 250 others taken hostage, an “earthquake in the heart of the Zionist entity.”
Those who attended services in Tehran were Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and a delegation from the Taliban of Afghanistan, including their Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mutaqqi. Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani also flew in for the ceremony, along with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Even Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry travelled to Tehran, despite diplomatic relations between the countries being severed after the 1979 revolution. Egypt and Iran have recently discussed reestablishing ties. But notably, none of Iran’s living past presidents — other than Khamenei — could be seen in state television footage of the prayers. They include reformist Mohammad Khatami, hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and relative moderate Hassan Rouhani — all individuals who maintain some political cachet within Iran’s tightly controlled political system. Authorities offered no explanation for their absence from the event, which comes weeks ahead of a planned June 28 presidential election. As of now, there’s no clear favourite for the position among Iran’s political elite — particularly no one who is a Shiite cleric, like Raisi.