*** ----> Big crowds in Iran capital for president’s funeral | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Big crowds in Iran capital for president’s funeral

AFP | Tehran, Iran

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei led prayers for late president Ebrahim Raisi yesterday as huge crowds thronged the capital Tehran for his funeral procession.

Flanked by top officials, Khamenei said prayers over the coffins of the eight dead from Sunday’s helicopter crash, who also included foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

A sea of mourners filled the open space around Tehran university, where the prayers were held before the funeral procession moved on to Enghelab and Azadi squares.

State television said Raisi, who had been widely seen as Khamenei’s most likely successor as supreme leader, had received a “millionfold farewell” from the people of Tehran.

Iran’s acting president, Mohammad Mokhber, later received heads and representatives of countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and Europe.

Tunisian President Kais Saied and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani attended an afternoon ceremony in which around 60 countries took part, said state news agency IRNA.

Egypt’s top diplomat, Sameh Shoukry, was also at the ceremony. He is the first Egyptian foreign minister to visit Tehran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Member countries of the European Union were among the absentees of the ceremony while some non-member countries, including Belarus and Serbia had their representatives.

Raisi’s helicopter crashed into a fog-shrouded mountainside in northwestern Iran on Sunday as his entourage headed back to the city of Tabriz after attending a ceremony on the border with Azerbaijan.

A huge search and rescue operation was launched, involving help from the European Union, Russia and Turkey.

State television announced Raisi’s death early on Monday.

The Iranian military said Wednesday that domestically produced drones had played the key role in locating the crash site.

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri, who was Amir-Abdollahian’s deputy, has been named acting foreign minister.

The country’s armed forces chief Mohammad Bagheri  has ordered an investigation into the cause of the helicopter crash.

Raisi was elected president in 2021, succeeding the moderate Hassan Rouhani at a time when the economy was battered by US sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear activities.