Iran’s supreme leader prays at president’s funeral service

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran’s supreme chief and representatives of militia teams he backs within the Center East prayed Wednesday over the coffins of the nation’s late president, overseas minister and different officers killed in a helicopter crash earlier this week. Lots of of 1000’s of individuals later adopted a procession honoring the useless down Tehran’s predominant boulevard.

Iran’s Shiite theocracy views mass demonstrations as essential proof of its legitimacy and the folks’s assist.

Nonetheless, Wednesday’s funeral service for President Ebrahim Raisi and others noticed a turnout that onlookers described as noticeably decrease than the 2020 procession honoring Revolutionary Guard normal Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad.

Most of the individuals stated they got here to Tehran for the ceremony from different cities and cities throughout the Islamic Republic, a sign of how these in Iran’s capital seen Raisi, who received the presidency in a report low turnout and later oversaw repeated crackdowns on dissent — together with within the wake of the 2022 demise of Mahsa Amini that sparked road protests over Iran’s necessary hijab, or headband.

Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had brazenly wept for Soleimani, additionally remained composed whereas reciting the usual prayer for the useless.

“Oh Allah, we didn’t see something however good from him,” Khamenei stated in Arabic, the language of Islam’s holy e book, the Quran. Iran’s performing president, Mohammad Mokhber, stood close by and brazenly cried.

The demise of Raisi, International Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and 6 others within the crash on Sunday comes at a politically delicate second for Iran, each at dwelling and overseas.

Raisi, who was 63, had been mentioned as a doable successor to Iran’s supreme chief, the 85-year-old Khamenei. None of Iran’s dwelling previous presidents — apart from Khamenei, who was president from 1981 till 1989 — might be seen in state tv footage of Wednesday’s prayers. The authorities gave no clarification for his or her obvious absence.

Following the lethal helicopter crash, Iran set June 28 as the following presidential election. For now, there’s no clear favourite for the place amongst Iran’s political elite — significantly nobody who’s a Shiite cleric, like Raisi.

Throughout Raisi’s time period in workplace, Iran launched an unprecedented assault on Israel final month as its battle on Hamas within the Gaza Strip rages on. Iran has supported Hamas all through the battle and offered weaponry to the militants.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh attended the prayers Wednesday morning, simply two days after the Worldwide Prison Courtroom’s prosecutor stated he’d search an arrest warrant for him and others over the Oct. 7 assault that sparked the most recent Israel-Hamas battle. Within the unprecedented assault on southern Israel, Hamas-led militants killed 1,200 folks and seized 250 hostage.

AP correspondent Charles de Ledesma experiences on a day of mourning for Iran.

The ICC prosecutor can be looking for arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Protection Minister Yoav Gallant for his or her conduct within the battle, which has killed greater than 35,000 Palestinians within the Gaza Strip and likewise a whole lot within the West Financial institution.

Haniyeh recounted Raisi telling him this yr that the Oct. 7 assault was an “earthquake within the coronary heart of the Zionist entity.” In a later assembly with Khamenei, the supreme chief informed Haniyeh that the “destruction of the Zionist regime is possible and, God keen, the day through which Palestine will probably be created from the ocean to river will arrive.”

Haniyeh’s presence seemingly signaled Khamenei intends to proceed his coverage of arming militant teams within the wider Mideast — together with Hamas, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthi rebels — as a strategy to strain its adversaries like Israel and america. Mourners on the ceremony chanted: “Demise to Israel!”

Hezbollah and Houthi representatives had been additionally in attendance.

Statesmen from the Mideast and past attended a later memorial service, together with Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Tunisian President Kais Saied.

Egyptian International Minister Sameh Shoukry was additionally there. Cairo and Tehran have been discussing reestablishing ties severed after the the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

A single black turban was positioned over Raisi’s casket through the morning service, which signifies he was thought-about a direct descendent of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Individuals then carried the coffins out on their shoulders as chants of “Demise to America!” erupted exterior.

Individuals brazenly wept through the procession and beat their chests, a standard signal of grief within the Shiite tradition. They tossed scarves and different possessions as much as the semitruck driving the caskets by means of Tehran, with coffin attendants brushing the gadgets towards the caskets in a gesture of blessing.

One man stated he and his mates took an almost seven-hour bus journey to attend the procession. Many expressed their sympathies for the useless, together with Raisi.

“He was our president, the others had been pilots and a minister, how can I be detached about their loss?” requested Sima Rahmani, a 27-year-old Tehran lady sporting a unfastened headband regardless of the chance of detention by police.

Prosecutors have warned folks towards displaying any public indicators of celebrating Raisi’s demise and a heavy safety power presence has been seen in Tehran for the reason that crash. Many retailers and shops noticeably remained open whereas some took off early for a protracted weekend regardless of bulk textual content messages and state TV broadcasting instances for the procession.

“I didn’t vote for Raisi in 2021 election, however he was the president of all folks,” stated Morteza Nemati, a 28-year-old physics pupil at Tehran Azad College. “My presence is a manner of paying tribute to him.”

In the meantime, an Iranian official provided a brand new accounting of Sunday’s crash, additional fueling the speculation that unhealthy climate had led to it. Gholamhossein Esmaili, who traveled in one of many two different helicopters in Raisi’s entourage, informed state TV that climate had been advantageous when the plane took off. However Raisi’s helicopter disappeared into heavy clouds and the others couldn’t attain the plane by radio.

The Friday prayer chief from town of Tabriz, Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, who was additionally on board, one way or the other answered two cell phone calls after the crash, saying he was damage, Esmaili stated.

It wasn’t clear why Iran couldn’t at that time monitor the cellphone sign. A Turkish drone helped discover the crash website. Tehran had even requested the U.S., its longtime foe, for assist.

“The situations of the our bodies discovered confirmed that they (died) instantly after the incident,” Esmaili stated. “However Ayatollah Ale-Hashem (died) a couple of hours after the incident.”


Related Press writers Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran; Joseph Krauss in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Samy Magdy in Cairo; and Munir Ahmed and Riazat Butt in Islamabad contributed to this report.