Why was Iran President Ebrahim Raisi, killed in helicopter crash, called ‘Butcher of Tehran’? | World News - Hindustan Times
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Why was Iran President Ebrahim Raisi, killed in helicopter crash, called ‘Butcher of Tehran’?

By | Edited by Aniruddha Dhar
May 20, 2024 03:48 PM IST

Ebrahim Raisi of Iran was sanctioned by the US in part over his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative hard-line cleric known for his brutal crackdowns on political opposition and considered a potential successor to the supreme leader, died in a helicopter crash landing in northern Iran, state media reported on Monday. He was 63.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a press conference in New York.(AFP file)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during a press conference in New York.(AFP file)

The helicopter crash comes as the Middle East remains unsettled by the Israel-Hamas war, during which Ebrahim Raisi, under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, launched an unprecedented drone-and-missile attack on Israel just last month.

Often referred to as the “Butcher of Tehran” by activists, Ebrahim Raisi was accused of being one of the four judges overseeing the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988 after the Iran-Iraq war, a massacre Iran has never officially acknowledged.

The US treasury department, in a 2019 sanctions announcement, cited Ebrahim Raisi's participation in a "death commission" that ordered the extrajudicial executions of thousands of political prisoners.

During Ebrahim Raisi's term in office, Iran enriched uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels, further escalating tensions with the West as Tehran also supplied bomb-carrying drones to Russia for its war in Ukraine and armed militia groups across the region.

Iran has faced years of mass protests against its Shia theocracy over its ailing economy and women’s rights — making the moment that much more sensitive for Tehran and the future of the country.

A hard-liner who formerly led the country’s judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi was viewed as a protégé of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and some analysts had suggested he could replace the 85-year-old leader after Khamenei’s death or resignation.

Ebrahim Raisi, who took office in August 2021 following the disqualification of several popular candidates in an election marked by historically low turnout, wore a black turban symbolising his descent from the Prophet Mohammad.

His presidency saw a crackdown on mass protests after the 2022 killing of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, strict enforcement of women's dress codes, increased uranium enrichment following the US withdrawal from a landmark nuclear deal, and heightened military tensions with Israel and the West.

The Iranian regime supported Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during his tenure.

(With inputs from agencies and NBNews)

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