Iran officially in mourning – but President Raisi’s opponents celebrate his death with fireworks


The death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has sparked differing reactions in Iran.

While the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, announced five days of public mourning following the sudden death of Mr Raisi, 63, opponents of the regime have been celebrating with fireworks.

On social media, activists such as Masih Alinejad – an Iranian-American author and women’s rights campaigner who lives in New York City – are posting in jubilation at the demise of Mr Raisi.

The hardline president, who was seen as a frontrunner to succeed Khamenei once the 85-year-old passed, was killed on Sunday after his helicopter crashed into a mountain as he returned from a visit to Azerbaijan.

Iran president death latest: Ebrahim Raisi and foreign minister killed in helicopter crash

Pictures emerged on Sunday of people praying for Mr Raisi’s wellbeing as news of the crash, which also killed Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, emerged.

Mr Raisi’s followers gathered in Tehran, while Iranian Shiite pilgrims in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq, were photographed praying for him after his death.

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People prayed for the wellbeing of Mr Raisi on Sunday in Tehran. Pic: Reuters

Iranian Shiite pilgrims pray in Najaf, Iraq, after the death of Mr Raisi. Pic: Reuters

Donya-e-Eqtesad, a daily Iranian newspaper, ran a photograph of Mr Raisi with the headline: “Farewell, Mr President”.

At the same time, tributes poured in from Iran’s allies, including Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, who the president had been meeting just hours before the crash.

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A woman in Moscow brings flowers to the Iranian embassy to pay tribute to the president, foreign minister and other victims. Pic: Reuters

But Mr Raisi, who was elected in 2021 in a vote which saw the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history, wasn’t universally liked.

He supported the country’s security services as they cracked down on all dissent, including in the aftermath of the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini.

In a video posted before Mr Raimi’s death was officially confirmed, Mersedeh Shahinkar, a woman who was left half-blinded by Iranian security forces when she took part in protests against Amini’s death, said she was “celebrating”.

She appears alongside Sima Moradbeigi, who lost mobility in her right arm after being reportedly shot during a women’s rights protest.

Another video shows the daughters of anti-regime protester Minoo Majidi, 62, toasting news of the helicopter crash.

Their mother was one of the hundreds killed while protesting against Amini’s death as she was shot by security forces 167 times, daughter Roya Piraei previously told the BBC.

One video on X purports to show people celebrating while watching live news and “waiting for the final confirmation that Raisi is dead”.

Fireworks were also reported across Iran as opponents of the clerical regime celebrated news of Mr Raisi and the foreign minister crashing.

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