Tears, cries of vengeance as Tehran bids farewell to Soleimani (PHOTOS)
Iranians took to the streets of Tehran to pay their respects to Soleimani and express their anger at his killing. MOHAMMAD ALI NAJIB/AL JAZEERA
By AL JAZEERA
Tehran, Iran – The remains of Qassem Soleimani, head of the country’s elite Quds Force who was killed in a US air strike, arrived in Tehran on Monday after a day of funeral processions in the cities of Ahvaz and Mashhad, which saw hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of people pour onto the streets in a burst of grief and anger.
The reception to Soleimani’s assassination on Friday has already been compared to the burial of Iran’s first Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, who died of natural causes and was buried in Tehran in 1989. Millions of people took to the streets that day, in what was then described as the biggest funeral procession in Iran’s modern history.
Iranian leaders have pledged “severe revenge” in response to Soleimani’s killing, which has triggered a dramatic escalation of tensions in the Middle East.
Abbas Aslani, of the Center for Middle East Strategic Studies, a think-tank close to the office of the Iranian president, said the assassination of Soleimani has made Iranians “rally around the flag”.
At Tehran’s Valisr Square, an oversized red banner, covering several floors of a mid-rise building, showed a white silhouette image of Soleimani. “Your blood challenges any adversary,” read an inscription in English underneath his image.
At the Tehran Metro, passengers were heard chanting, “No compromise, no surrender.”
Soleimani’s remains were originally scheduled to arrive in Tehran on Sunday night. But the ceremony in Mashhad was delayed for hours due to the size of the crowd who showed up and paid tribute at the Imam Reza Shrine, the heart of the Shia faith in Iran.
In Tehran on Monday, a sea of men, wearing all-black outfits, and women in black chadors, waited for the arrival of Soleimani’s remains, as loudspeakers blared mourning hymns. A traffic jam has formed in the intersections leading to the unfinished grand mosque, named after Khomeini, where the current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei led the prayers for Soleimani. Khamenei was seen sobbing as he led the prayers alongside President Hassan Rouhani.
Also among those in the crowd was Ismail Haniya, leader of the Palestinian group Hamas. In his speech, he urged “unity … to punish those behind the heinous crime”, referring to Soleimani’s assassination.
On Tuesday, Soleimani’s remains will be brought to his hometown of Kerman for final rites before his burial.
The reception to Soleimani’s assassination has already been compared to the burial of Iran’s first Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. EBRAHIM NOROOZI/AP PHOTO
Iranian leaders have pledged “severe revenge” in response to Soleimani’s killing, which has triggered a dramatic escalation of tensions in the Middle East. MOHAMMAD ALI NAJIB/AL JAZEERA
Soleimani was a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War that lasted for eight years. Some of the mourners in the crowd carried photos of him as a young soldier. MOHAMMAD ALI NAJIB/AL JAZEERA
The remains of Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was also killed in the US air strike on Friday in Baghdad, were also brought to Iran. MOHAMMAD ALI NAJIB/AL JAZEERA
Uniformed men from different branches of the Iranian military were among those in the crowd. In Iran, military service is mandatory among men, aged 18 to 40, and it could last for up to two years. MOHAMMAD ALI NAJIB/AL JAZEERA
Grieving mourners awaiting the funeral procession for Soleimani. MOHAMMAD ALI NAJIB/AL JAZEERA
Many of the mourners, who waited since Sunday night, for the arrival of Soleimani’s remains, waved different images of the slain commander, while others carried Iranian flags. MOHAMMAD ALI NAJIB/AL JAZEERA
Abbas Aslani, of the Center for Middle East Strategic Studies, a think-tank close to the office of the Iranian president, said the killing of Soleimani has made Iranians ‘rally around the flag’. MOHAMMAD ALI NAJIB/AL JAZEERA
A repeated cry among the group of mourners for Soleimani was a call to “avenge” his killing. MOHAMMAD ALI NAJIB/AL JAZEERA
An Iranian man, who took his son to the funeral march of Soleimani, said that he is willing to take up arms again and return to military service, to avenge the killing of the Quds Force commander. MOHAMMAD ALI NAJIB/AL JAZEERA
—— AUTO – GENERATED; Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: January 06, 2020 at 05:14AM