In early morning hour, Iranians began to march towards Enqelab Square, in central Tehran, to meet at the University of Tehran, where the Iranian Leader was going to offer prayers for the late former Iranian president.
The crowd was tightly packed in front of the south main gate of the university from where the top officials were getting in for the funeral services.
Mismanagement or perhaps bad planning had the large and uncontrollable crowd fall on top of each other a few times while security forces were pushing the crowd away from university entrance.
People were carrying posters with photos of Rafsanjani chanting La ilah illaAllah, translated as there is no deity but God.
The crowded streets of the city were very much a reminder of the demise of Imam Khomeini, the founder of Islamic Revolution back in 1989.
Ayatollah Rafsanjani was a visionary leader: Ebtekar
Among the crowd was spotted Masoumeh Ebtekar, Iran’s head of Department of Environment who called Rafsanjani a “forward looking”, “progressive” and “visionary leader.”
“Ayatollah Rafsanjani was very involved in supporting environmental issues particularly in the previous years. He supported the introduction of the general policies in the Expediency Council which then were submitted by the Leader; an important milestone for the environment in Iran.”
Madam Ebtekar, also the vice president of Iran, recalled Rafsanjani as a legendary figure who sought elevation of Iran both as a nation and a regional partner in terms of working with other countries particularly during his presidency with Arab neighbors to promote “peace and prosperity in the region.”
“His legacy will remain not only for the Iranian nation but also for the world.”
Rafsanjani put people first, Minister Vaezi says
Another high ranking official, who cozied up to the crowd and spoke to them for over an hour at the corner was Mahoud Vaezi, Iran’s Minister of IT and Communications. He shared his tale of the late head of Expediency Council, Rafsanjani.
“After a month of his presidency we went to Mecca with the then, President Rafsanjani. In Medina, Saudi police wouldn’t give entry to Jannat al-Baqi, a cemetery in the city, but they scheduled a tour for Rafsanjani and his delegation.
As we were getting into the cemetery, a bunch of people, around 500, at the site decided to join us. This is when Rafsanjani stood to the side so that everyone could walk inside with his mission. The Saudi officers, thinking the crowd was part of the former president’s delegation didn’t deny them entry. That is the kind of man he was.”
Rafsanjani was very savvy: Minister Nematzadeh
In remembrance of the late president, Iran’s Minster of Industries, Mines and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh said, “Rafsanjani was very savvy and intelligent.”
“Years ago we went to Kharg Island, a continental island in the Persian Gulf belonging to Iran, to put a halt on oil export. Once there, the navy forces didn’t allow any entry to journalists or photographers to the location, so I borrowed a camera from one of the locals and took some shots of Mr. Rafsanjani.
About 20 years following that incident, when he was writing his memoir, his son, Yaser, came over asking for those photos, an event that I had forgotten way back when. He was a man with sharp memory.”
People from all walks of life came to pay respect to Rafsanjani
And it wasn’t just the top officials who spoke about the former parliament speaker, Rafsanjani. A 50-year-old woman, Zohreh Hassani, also expressed her sentiments about the demise of the former Iranian president.
“I sobbed when I heard the news. He was a good man. He was very good for us,” she said, adding that “Love for Rafsanjani” brought her out to bid farewell to him.
The busy streets of Tehran are car free on certain occasions and holidays, and today was no exception.
Look over the Hafiz Bridge in Tehran, which is normally packed with vehicles, one wouldn’t see cars over it but a moving crowd who had come to pay their dues to their MAN.
Rafsanjani’s body was laid to rest in the mausoleum of the late leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.