Who was Ebrahim Raisi? Iranian president dies in helicopter crash

 (Russia's State Duma PR departmen)
(Russia's State Duma PR departmen)

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi has died after the helicopter he and other officials were in crashed during bad weather in a mountainous and forested region of the country.

The 63-year-old, who served as a representative of hardline and conservative political groups in Iran for almost three years, was set to seek re-election next year.

According to media sources, Raisi was on his way back to Tehran after meeting President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan.

But who was he and who will replace him?

Who was Ebrahim Raisi?

Ebrahim Raisi died in a helicopter crash (AP)
Ebrahim Raisi died in a helicopter crash (AP)

Raisi was born in Mashhad, a centre of Shia Islam in northern Iran. He received religious instruction and training at the Qom seminary, where he studied under eminent academics like Khamenei.He donned a black turban, just like the supreme leader, signifying that he was a sayyid, or a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad. Before moving to Tehran in 1985, Raisi gained expertise as a prosecutor in a number of different jurisdictions. Human rights organisations claim that he was a member of a committee of judges in the capital city that oversaw the execution of political detainees.

In 2014, he was nominated by Khamenei to head the Astan Quds Razavi, which resulted in his two-year tenure as attorney general. With billions of dollars in assets, the bonyad is in charge of looking after the shrine of the eighth Shia imam, Imam Reza.

In an attempt to unseat former president Hassan Rouhani, who stood for the centrist and moderate groups, Raisi first ran for president in 2017, with no success.

Appointed by Khamenei in 2019, Raisi was making headlines as the new head of the Iranian judiciary after a brief break. He campaigned on the platform of fighting corruption and defending justice, and he travelled across the provinces a lot to win over the populace.

In the midst of poor voter attendance and the widespread disqualification of moderate and reformist contenders, Raisi was elected president in 2021 and seemed to have established a solid platform for reelection.


Many events took place during his short presidency.

Significant antigovernment demonstrations broke out in Iran during Raisi's presidency following the death of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish lady, while she was in police custody. In response, the government launched a vicious crackdown that resulted in executions and deaths.

Tehran had also advanced its ballistic missile programme and kept up its enrichment of uranium.

The country’s relationship with Israel also worsened. Iran fired a barrage of hundreds of missiles and drones towards Israel last month, sparking the start of a long-running covert conflict with Israel.

The militant organisation Hamas, which is supported by Iran, stormed Israel on October 7, which led to an increase in tensions between the two nations and the subsequent strike.

Iran has also become Russia's go-to foreign supplier for military drones throughout this time. Meanwhile, Iran and Saudi Arabia struck a pact last year to reestablish diplomatic ties.

Raisi was elected president in 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)
Raisi was elected president in 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)

Who will succeed Ebrahim Raisi?

Iran's Constitution states that in the event of the president's demise or incapacitation, the First Vice President receives leadership. In this case, it will be Mohammad Mokhber, who was assigned to the position shortly after Raisi took office in August 2021.

Until a presidential election can take place, which must occur within the next 50 days, Mokhber will hold the office of president.