Iran Begins Funeral Events for President Raisi

Funeral events for Iran’s president and foreign minister began in northwestern Iran on Tuesday as investigators looked into the helicopter crash that killed them and the country grappled with the shock of losing two of its most prominent leaders at a volatile moment.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has announced five days of mourning for the president, Ebrahim Raisi, 63, and the foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, 60, who died when their helicopter plunged into a mountainous area near the Iranian city of Jolfa on Sunday. The state news media said the crash had resulted from a “technical failure.” Iran’s Armed Forces said it had begun an investigation and sent a team to the site.

Videos posted by Iranian news agencies showed crowds lining the street behind barriers on Tuesday morning under a gray sky in the northwestern city of Tabriz, awaiting a procession carrying the flag-draped coffins of Mr. Raisi, Mr. Amir Abdollahian and the six others killed in the crash. Some people held photographs of Mr. Raisi; the semiofficial Tasnim news agency reported that the country’s interior minister and acting president had been spotted in the crowd.

The funeral procession in Tabriz, the closest large city to the site of the crash, was the first in a series of official events to bid farewell to the president, a hard-line cleric who came of age during the country’s Islamic revolution and oversaw a deadly crackdown on protesters as the head of the judiciary in 2019 and as president in 2022. He had been widely viewed as a potential successor to Ayatollah Khamenei, 85.

While some Iranians mourned Mr. Raisi, others welcomed the loss of a man they viewed as a key figure in a corrupt regime who oversaw the execution of dissidents, used violence to suppress and kill protesters, and arrested journalists and activists.

After the events in Tabriz, the bodies of Mr. Raisi and the others killed in the crash are due to be taken to the city of Qom and then to Tehran, the capital, by the evening.

The Iranian authorities have declared Wednesday an official public holiday, and funeral prayers and a burial procession are scheduled to take place in Tehran. The events will include a ceremony attended by foreign dignitaries, according to the state news media, although it was not yet clear which world leaders would attend.

Mr. Raisi’s burial is set to take place in his home city, Mashhad, on Thursday.

Iran’s leaders have moved to project a sense of calm in the aftermath of the crash, reassuring the public that the government will continue to function. An interim president, Mohammad Mokhber, and interim foreign minister, Ali Bagheri Kani, were quickly named. A date for new presidential elections — June 28 — has been set.

But apprehension remains about what comes next for the country, which has careened from crisis to crisis. The crash occurred at a particularly fraught moment for Iran, against a backdrop of economic crisis, widespread public discontent and geopolitical tensions that last month pushed Israel and Iran to exchange rare direct attacks.

Analysts in Iran said that the stability and survival of the Islamic Republic were not at risk, but many were wary about who will take over as president and who will constitute the next government.

The death of the foreign minister, Mr. Amir Abdollahian, also disrupts Iran’s recent flurry of diplomacy with regional Arab countries to forge closer ties, manage the wider conflict with Israel and conduct indirect talks with the United States.

Leily Nikounazar contributed reporting.

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