Iranian President ‘Martyred’ in Fatal Crash

( – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took office in 2021. The Islamic hardliner immediately began cracking down on morality issues in the country. That crackdown led to the death of a 22-year-old for allegedly not wearing a hijab and the biggest national protests since the 1970s. He was even floated as a successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but that won’t happen now because Raisi is dead.

Fatal Helicopter Crash

On Sunday, May 19, Raisi’s helicopter crashed in the Dizmar forest near its border with Azerbaijan. The president was returning home after holding an event with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev to inaugurate a dam. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, a Revolutionary Guard official, the governor of Iran’s East Azerbaijan, a senior cleric from Tabriz, and three crew members were also onboard the US-designed Bell 212 helicopter.

When the helicopter went missing, search teams went looking for it. However, Iranian officials said the terrain, coupled with dense fog and blizzard conditions, made it difficult to carry out the search-and-rescue mission. Pir-Hossein Koulivand, the president of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, told reporters that 40 search teams were at the site.

Early Monday morning, officials announced the teams found the helicopter and all of the occupants were dead. The ayatollah announced First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber would become the interim president until an election was held within 50 days. That is now scheduled for June 28.

Mourning the President

Khamenei announced the country would observe five days of mourning for the late president and the other officials. However, life went on as usual in the country later Monday morning. Schools and businesses remained open. Some news organizations reported the Iranian people didn’t seem to be impacted by Raisi’s death like they had other leaders in the past.

Government loyalists still turned out to share their grief. Squares and mosques were packed with people mourning the loss of their president. Reuters reported one mourner called Raisi a “martyred president.”

Others expressed their disdain for the dead president, blaming him for the deaths of Iranians and mistreatment of women in the country.

Blaming America

Business Insider reported Iran’s interior minister, Ahmad Vahidi, said the accident happened after the helicopter had to make a “hard landing.” Other reports indicated the aircraft experienced a technical issue that caused it to crash into a mountainside.

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s former foreign minister, blamed US sanctions for the accident. He claimed the measures have prevented the Iranian government from having good aviation facilities. He went on to say Raisi’s death would be another offense on “the black list of American crimes against the Iranian nation.”

John Kirby, the spokesman for the US National Security Council, called the allegation “utterly baseless.”

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