Funeral Procession for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Draws Thousands

TEHRAN – Thousands of Iranians somberly walked through the streets on May 21 for the funeral procession of President Ebrahim Raisi and seven members of his entourage who perished in a helicopter crash.

The mourners, waving Iranian flags and holding portraits of the late president, began their procession from a central square in the northwestern city of Tabriz. President Raisi was en route to Tabriz when his helicopter crashed on May 19.

The ill-fated helicopter lost communication while returning to Tabriz after President Raisi attended a joint inauguration of a dam with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on their shared border. Harsh weather conditions in the mountainous region contributed to the crash, leading to an extensive search and rescue operation after two other helicopters in Raisi’s convoy lost contact with his aircraft.

State TV broke the news of President Raisi’s death early on May 20, declaring, “The servant of the Iranian nation, Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi, has achieved the highest level of martyrdom,” while broadcasting images of the late president accompanied by a recitation of the Quran.

Alongside President Raisi, the crash claimed the lives of Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, several members of the provincial authorities of East Azerbaijan, and his security team. Iran’s military chief of staff, Mohammad Bagheri, has ordered an investigation into the cause of the crash.

Following the confirmation of President Raisi’s death, condolences from around the world poured in, and people across Iran gathered to mourn the loss of their leader and his companions. Thousands of mourners, clutching portraits of Raisi, congregated at Valiasr Square in Tehran on May 20.

The somber procession in Tabriz marked the beginning of a national period of mourning, with the country coming together to honor President Raisi’s legacy and grieve the tragic loss of its leader. One tour operator, offering day trips from Tokyo to the Mount Fuji area, told AFP they are redirecting visitors to another Lawson store nearby that offers a similar view but has fewer residents nearby.