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Helicopter accident with the president of Iran. Who is Ebrahim Raisi?

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, whose helicopter crashed on Sunday, is a hard-line Islamic cleric and official associated with the Iranian justice system for most of his life. He has ultra-conservative political views. Many Iranians and human rights activists accuse him of participating in mass executions of political prisoners in the 1980s. He is seen as a potential successor to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

A helicopter with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and the head of the Iranian Foreign Ministry on board crashed in the mountains on Sunday on the way back from a visit to the border with Azerbaijan – Reuters reports, citing an Iranian official. He claims that the lives of both politicians “are in danger” as a result of the disaster.

Earlier on Sunday, Iranian state television reported that the presidential helicopter had a “hard landing.” She said rescue teams were on their way to the site, but weather conditions made reaching them difficult. Reports about the incident involving Raisi were confirmed by Iran's interior minister.

READ MORE: : Helicopter accident with the president of Iran

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Who is Ebraim Raisi

Raisi, 63, has been president of Iran since 2021. He is a hard-line Islamic cleric with ultra-conservative views and the right-hand man of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

He was born in 1960 in Mashhad, the country's second largest city.

As a student, he observed the fall of the era of Shah Reza Pahlavi's rule and the outbreak of the Islamic revolution. On its wave, Shiite spiritual leader Ruhollah Khomeini took power in the country. After these events, the career of Raisi – a young cleric and Khamenei's protégé – rapidly accelerated.


Head of justice, potential successor to the ayatollah

At the age of 20 Ebrahim Raisi he became deputy prosecutor of the important city of Karaj, and a moment later he began to perform the same function in Hamadan. In 1985, at the age of 25, he became a deputy prosecutor of Tehran.

In 1988, as Tehran's prosecutor, Raisi became a member of a four-person secret tribunal called the “death committee”, which issued thousands of death sentences to imprisoned political enemies of the Islamic Republic. Raisi has repeatedly denied any role in issuing the death sentences. However, he admitted that they were justified by a fatwa, i.e. a religious ruling issued by Khomeini.

Raisi continued to climb the career ladder. He was head of the State Inspection Organization and first deputy head of justice, and in 2014 he became prosecutor general of Iran. Two years later, he became the guardian of one of the most important and richest foundations in the Muslim world – Astan Quds Rezavi, which takes care of the holiest sanctuary in Iran, the temple of Imam Ali ar-Rida in Mashhad, and which has huge interests in construction, agriculture, energy, telecommunications and financial services.

In 2017, Raisi decided to run for president of Iran for the first time. He lost to the incumbent president, Hassan Rouhani, but received quite a lot of support – 38 percent. During the election campaign, just like four years later, he presented himself as a politician fighting corruption, although his opponents pointed out that as the head of the judiciary he had done little in this matter.

After losses elections in 2017, Ayatollah Khamenei appointed Raisi as head of justice. He was also elected vice-chairman of the Assembly of Experts, an 88-person body responsible for, among others, for the election of Iran's supreme leader. Last year, he also became prosecutor of the Special Clerical Court, which is responsible for prosecuting Shiite clerics and scholars accused of inappropriate behavior.

Raisi enjoys the support of the elite Revolutionary Guards, the Basij paramilitary Islamic militias associated with them, and radical clerics.

Many predict that Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will anoint Raisi as his successor.

Ebrahim Raisi is the president of Iran Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

American sanctions

In 2019, then-president USA Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Raisi in connection with actions against human rights, among others for participating in the “death committee” and in the brutal suppression of the so-called green revolution, i.e. riots that broke out after the rigged presidential elections in 2009, when the ultraconservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won again.

Main photo source: Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)/Mahmoud Hosseini

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