Thousands gather for Raisi’s funeral procession in Tehran.

On Wednesday, Tehran witnessed a massive gathering as tens of thousands of Iranians poured into the streets to honor the memory of President Ebrahim Raisi and his companions who tragically lost their lives in a helicopter crash last Sunday.

At the heart of the city, amidst the solemn atmosphere, people carrying portraits of Raisi congregated in and around the University of Tehran. It’s where Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is slated to lead prayers for Raisi and his fellow travelers, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

The fatal crash occurred amidst foggy conditions in northern Iran as Raisi and his delegation were en route to Tabriz following their participation in the inauguration of a dam project on the border with Azerbaijan.

Following the crash, an extensive search and rescue mission, with assistance from Turkey, Russia, and the European Union, was initiated. State television confirmed Raisi’s passing early on Monday.

Raisi, aged 63, was widely seen as the potential successor to Khamenei as Iran’s supreme leader.

In Tehran, large banners proclaiming Raisi as “the martyr of service” adorn the streets, while others bid “farewell to the servant of the disadvantaged.” Residents received messages urging them to attend the funeral procession.

The processions, expected to draw foreign dignitaries, are set to commence from the university and proceed to Enghelab Square in the city center, according to state media.

Funeral ceremonies began on Tuesday in Tabriz and the religious center of Qom, with throngs of mourners dressed in black paying their respects.

Following ceremonies in Tehran, the remains will be transported to Mashhad, Raisi’s hometown in the northeast, where he will be laid to rest on Thursday evening after funeral rites at the Imam Reza shrine.

National mourning has been declared for five days by Khamenei, who has appointed Vice President Mohammad Mokhber as caretaker president until the upcoming June 28 election to determine Raisi’s successor.

Ali Bagheri, the former deputy of Amir-Abdollahian, has been named acting foreign minister, while an investigation into the helicopter crash has been ordered by the country’s armed forces chief of staff, Mohammad Bagheri.

Raisi assumed office in 2021, succeeding the moderate Hassan Rouhani during a period marked by economic hardship due to US sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear program.

His presidency was characterized by widespread protests, economic challenges, and heightened tensions with Israel. Following his passing, condolences poured in from global allies, including Russia, China, and regional powers, while the UN Security Council observed a minute of silence in his honor. Messages of sympathy also came from Iran’s allies in the region, including Syria, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

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