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President Raeisi laid to rest at Imam Reza (AS) Shrine

The cortege carrying the coffin of President Ebrahim Raeisi moves through the massive throng of mourners in Mashhad, May 23, 2024. (Photo by Tasnim)

Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi has been laid to rest, concluding days of funeral attended by several millions of mourners after his "martyrdom-like passing" in a helicopter crash.

At least three million mourners marched in his home town Mashhad Thursday to bid farewell to President Raeisi, the mega city's mayor said, following processions in the cities of Tabriz, Qom, Tehran and Birjand.

Later at dusk, the president's body was lowered into a tomb at the Imam Reza (AS) Shrine, where Shia Islam’s eighth imam is buried and millions of pilgrims visit each year.

The 63-year-old president lost his life on Sunday alongside his foreign minister and six others after their helicopter went down in the country's mountainous northwest while heading to inaugurate an upgraded oil refinery unit in Tabriz.

The incident engulfed Iran in shock and grief and generated a groundswell of support and solidarity from Muslims and non-Muslims across the world.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, expressing his deep sorrow over the "martyrdom-like passing", announced five days of national mourning on Monday.

The cortege carrying the coffins of the "martyrs" attracted huge numbers of mourners who thronged main thoroughfares and adjoining streets for several kilometers, wherever it went.   

In Tehran, Ayatollah Khamenei and representatives of the regional resistance groups prayed over the coffins Wednesday, before millions of people followed a procession down Tehran’s main boulevard.

“Oh Allah, we didn’t see anything but good from him,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in Arabic. Iran’s acting president, Mohammad Mokhber, and other officials stood nearby and some openly cried. 

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh attended the prayers and recounted President Raeisi telling him that the Oct. 7 operation by Palestinian fighters against Israel was an “earthquake in the heart of the Zionist entity”.

Late Wednesday, the resistance leaders met on the sidelines of the funeral with General Hossein Salami, commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Esmail Qa'ani, head of the Quds Force, for talks on the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza.

Statesmen from West Asia and beyond from some 60 countries attended a later memorial service, including 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.

Tajikistan's President Imomali Rahmon, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the UAE's minister of foreign affairs, were other foreign representatives who traveled to Tehran, meeting Iranian leaders to express their condolences.

On Thursday, millions of men and women dressed in black crowded around the Imam Reza (AS) Shrine under its golden dome, weeping and beating their chests in sorrow. 

Some clutched white flowers, while others held aloft placards paying tribute to President Raeisi as the "man of the battlefield" as a large truck carrying his body drove through the sea of mourners.

"I have come, O Shah, give me refuge," said a large Farsi writing emblazoned on top of the truck, in reference to Imam Reza (AS). 

Posters of President Raeisi, black flags and religious symbols were erected along the streets of Mashhad, particularly around his final resting place.

Earlier tens of thousands of people lined the streets of Birjand, capital of the eastern province of South Khorasan, to bid farewell to the late president as his coffin move through the main street.

President Raeisi was South Khorasan's representative in the Assembly of Experts which is in charge of selecting or dismissing Iran's leader.

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