Iran’s President, Foreign Minister and Others Die in Helicopter Crash

( – Iran has experienced a lot of turmoil since President Ebrahim Raisi took power in 2021. The country experienced mass protests in 2022 after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who died after being beaten by the morality police. Now the president who violently cracked down on dissenters is dead.

On Sunday, May 19, Raisi’s helicopter crashed into the mountains near Iran’s border with Azerbaijan. The Iranian government has not given a cause for the crash but reports indicate there was a thick fog blanketing the area at the time of the accident. The helicopter was also carrying Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, a senior cleric from Tabriz, the governor of the East Azerbaijan province, a Revolutionary Guard official, and three crew members.

The president was flying on a Bell 212 helicopter the country purchased approximately two decades ago. The country has used Bell helicopters since the Shah’s era but they have experienced shortages because of Western sanctions. Pilots often fly the aircraft without performing safety checks first. It’s unclear if that was the case this time or if it was just the bad weather.

The Iranian government declared the country would be in five days of mourning on Monday. Government loyalists crowded public squares and mosques to offer prayers for the dead president and foreign minister. However, most of the businesses and schools remained open across the country. Iranians weren’t mourning the hardline president the same way they had other high-profile figures in the past.

Laila, a 21-year-old student in the capital of Tehran, told reporters that she wasn’t sad about him dying because he ordered the morality police to crack down on women who didn’t wear hijabs to cover their hair. She said she was upset because she didn’t think his death would change anything in the Islamic country. Soran Mansournia, an internet user, posted a message online congratulating “the families of the victims of the executions,” referring to the 5,0000 Iranians he had a hand in killing in the 1980s.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei named the country’s vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, to serve as the acting president.

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