President Raisi is dead, long live the people of Iran

Iranian parliamentary leader, President Raisi, has died in a helicopter crash over the weekend. The head of the ‘Combatant Clergy Association’ was active in a theocracy run by Ayatollahs following the 1979 revolution.

Raisi ran for president in 2017 as the candidate of the conservative ‘Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces’, losing to moderate incumbent president Hassan Rouhani, 57% to 38.3%. He successfully ran for president a second time in 2021 with 62.9% of the votes, succeeding Hassan Rouhani.

Raisi’s presidency oversaw a massive clampdown on women’s rights following the Hijab Revolts spurred by the death of 22-year-old Mahsi Amini in custody.

Between November 2022 and March 2023, up to 7,000 schoolgirls were poisoned at dozens of schools in at least 28 of Iran’s 31 provinces, according to human rights groups and government officials. ‘Hundreds were hospitalized with symptoms that included respiratory distress, numbness in limbs, heart palpitations, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. The outbreak at schools for girls, first reported in the holy city of Qom, generated new protests against the government.’

As a religious scholar in Iran’s theocratic government and a protégé of Ayatollah Khamenei, Raisi climbed the ranks of the judiciary, serving as a prosecutor in several cities.

After being named Iran’s top judge, he is believed to have been part of a small committee that ordered the executions of thousands of political dissidents in 1988.

Raisi oversaw a general clampdown on independent trade union activity with the banning of independent unions. At the same time he promoted the inclusion of Iran in a group of nation’s known as BRICS, whose members are drawn from autocracies as well as democracies.

Execution of LGBTIQ individuals also ramped up under Raisi, who actively promoted the death penalty for homosexuality and other ‘moral offenses’.

It is not surprising that South Africa’s Naledi Pandor, whose government is in a coalition with far-right Al Jama-ah party in Johanessburg is a big fan.

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