Iranian crowd chants ‘death to America’ at funeral for dead president

Mourners chanted ‘Death to America’ at the funeral service for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday in the nation’s capital of Tehran.

President Raisi, Iran’s foreign minister and others were killed Sunday in a helicopter crash. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei presided over the service at Tehran University, where caskets of the dead draped in Iranian flags were seen with pictures of the deceased on them. A black turban was placed on Raisi’s coffin, signifying him as a direct descendant of the Islamic Prophet Muhammed, according to The Associated Press.

‘Oh Allah, we didn’t see anything but good from him,’ Khamenei said, quoting the standard prayer for the dead from the Quran, Islam’s holy book. The supreme leader left after he finished the prayer, and members of the crowd reached out to touch the coffins. Iran’s acting president, Mohammad Mokhber, stood nearby and openly wept during the service.

People then carried the coffins out on their shoulders, with chants outside of ‘Death to America!’ They loaded them onto a semitruck trailer for a procession through downtown Tehran to Azadi, or ‘Freedom,’ Square, where Raisi gave speeches in the past. People threw scarves and other items up for attendants on the truck to touch the coffins for a blessing.

The top leaders of Iran’s paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, attended the funeral. Also present was Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist group supported by Iran that is currently engaged in war with Israel in Gaza. Before the funeral, Haniyeh spoke and an emcee led the crowd in the chant: ‘Death to Israel!’ 

‘I come in the name of the Palestinian people, in the name of the resistance factions of Gaza … to express our condolences,’ Haniyeh told the crowd of mourners.

In his address, Haniyeh said he met with Raisi in Tehran during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and heard the president say the Palestinian cause is the key issue of the Muslim world.

The Muslim world ‘must fulfill their obligations to the Palestinians to liberate their land,’ Haniyeh said, attributing those words to Raisi. He also said Raisi described the Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel that started the war, during which Hamas terrorists killed 1,200 people and took 250 captives, an ‘earthquake in the heart of the Zionist entity.’ Tens of thousands of Palestinians have since been killed in the Gaza Strip and hundreds of others in the West Bank in Israel’s military campaign to eradicate Hamas.

Other leaders from Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East attended the funeral, including from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Egypt. 

The Iranian regime has declared five days of mourning over Sunday’s helicopter crash, with mass demonstrations by mourners seen throughout the country. Prosecutors have warned the public against showing any public signs celebrating Raisi’s death and a heavy security presence has been reported in Tehran since the crash. 

Despite the warning, video posted online by regime opponents showed several Iranians celebrating Raisi’s death in the streets. Some launched fireworks, a woman passed out sweets and several people could be heard cheering in the video released after Raisi died. 

Human rights activists and critics of the Iranian theocracy say Raisi, known as the ‘Butcher of Tehran,’ was a murderer and authoritarian who led a crackdown on the 2022-2023 demonstrations provoked by the death in custody of a young Iranian Kurdish woman arrested by morality police for violating the country’s strict dress codes. 

The late president was sanctioned by the U.S. government for his role in abuses inflicted on protesters, as well as mass executions of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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