Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, was a hard-line cleric close to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

His election in 2021 consolidated the control of conservatives over every part of the Islamic Republic.

The 63-year-old former judiciary chief succeeded Hassan Rouhani after a landslide victory in a poll which saw many prominent moderate and reformist candidates barred and the majority of voters stay away.

He took power as Iran faced multiple challenges, including acute economic problems, escalating regional tensions, and stalled talks on the revival of a nuclear deal with world powers.

However, his time in office was dominated by the anti-government protests that swept across Iran in 2022, as well as the current war in Gaza between Israel and the Iran-backed Palestinian group Hamas, during which Iran’s shadow war with Israel burst into the open.

He had also faced continuing calls from many Iranians and human rights activists for an investigation into his alleged role in the mass executions of political prisoners in the 1980s.

LIVE UPDATES – Iran’s President Raisi killed in helicopter crash

Ebrahim Raisi was born in 1960 in Mashhad, Iran’s second biggest city and home to the country’s holiest Shia Muslim shrine. His father, who was a cleric, died when he was five years old.

Raisi, who wore a black turban identifying him in Shia tradition as a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, followed his father’s footsteps and started attending a seminary in the holy city of Qom at the age of 15.

While a student he took part in protests against the Western-backed Shah, who was eventually toppled in 1979 in an Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

After the revolution he joined the judiciary and served as a prosecutor in several cities while being trained by Ayatollah Khamenei, who became Iran’s president in 1981.



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