Tens of thousands of mourning Iranians gathered on the morning of Tuesday, May 21, for the start of the funeral of President Ebrahim Raïssi in Tabriz, the capital of the province of East Azerbaijan where he died at 63 years in the crash of his helicopter. A huge crowd covered the city’s main square, waving flags and portraits of the president and the seven other crash victims. The eight coffins covered with the Iranian flag were driven through the crowd on a truck.

Speaking at the start of the ceremony, Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi paid tribute to the victims, considered “martyrs”. “The Iranian people have shown that they will turn every calamity into a staircase to lift the nation to new glories,” he said. “We, the members of the government, who have had the honor of serving this beloved president, this hardworking president, commit ourselves to our dear people and our leader to follow the path of these martyrs,” he said. -he adds.

Iran declared a five-day mourning on Monday, and the president’s funeral will continue in the afternoon in the holy city of Qom, south of Tehran. Ayatollah Khamenei is due to lead prayers at a farewell ceremony planned for Tuesday evening in Tehran, where Mr. Raisi’s remains will be transferred. The grand procession will be held in the capital on Wednesday morning. Then the remains will be taken Thursday morning to the province of South Khorasan (east), and his hometown, Mashhad, where he will be buried. University exams have been suspended and Wednesday will be a public holiday.

Crash investigation

Mr. Raisi, who has presided over Iran since 2021, died in the accident of the helicopter which took him to Tabriz on Sunday after he had attended the joint inauguration of a dam with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliev, on their common border.

Difficult search and rescue operations were carried out for around twelve hours in poor weather conditions in this steep and wooded region. The wreckage of the helicopter was discovered at dawn on Monday. The chief of staff of the armed forces, Mohammad Bagheri, ordered an investigation into the causes of the crash on Monday.

Among the eight people on board the plane were Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, 60, the governor of East Azerbaijan province, an imam and the head of the president’s security team .

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has tasked Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, 68, to serve as interim president ahead of presidential elections set for June 28. Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri, who served as deputy to Mr. Amir Abdollahian, has been named acting foreign minister.

Many countries have offered their condolences to the Islamic Republic. Palestinian Hamas, Lebanese Hezbollah and Syria, all allies of the Islamic Republic and claiming to be the axis of resistance against Israel, paid tribute to the late president.