TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Huge crowds of mourners have streamed into the streets of Tehran to pay their final respects to Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former Iranian president and chairman of the Expediency Council, who is viewed as a pillar of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
On Tuesday morning, a massive mourning ceremony was held for the late cleric at Tehran University, where Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei performed the funeral prayers.
President Hassan Rouhani, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and Judiciary Chief Sadeq Amoli Larijani also attended the funeral procession.
Among other participants were government ministers, lawmakers, military top brass, members of the Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts as well as a number of foreign ambassadors and dignitaries.
The body of the venerated cleric was laid to rest at the mausoleum of the late Founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini in southern Tehran later in the day.
Tens of thousands of mourners took part in the burial ceremony, which was a public holiday across the country.
Ayatollah Rafsanjani was admitted to Shohada Hospital in northern Tehran on Sunday after suffering a heart attack. He passed away later in the day. He was 82.
Iran is observing three days of national mourning in honor of Ayatollah Rafsanjani.
On Monday, a mourning ceremony was held at Jamaran Mosque in Tehran. President Rouhani along with other senior officials attended the funeral.
Since Sunday, messages of condolence have poured in both from home and abroad.
Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, in a statement, offered condolences to the Iranian nation, praising Ayatollah Rafsanjani as a firm supporter of the anti-Zionist resistance front.
Nasrallah said Ayatollah Rafsanjani was a flag-bearer of the Palestinian cause, as the main issue of the Muslim world, and stood by the resistance movement facing Zionist plots against Palestine and the entire region.
Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri also offered condolences to the Iranian nation and government over the passing of the veteran politician and iconic official.
The two Lebanese officials praised Ayatollah Rafsanjani as a supporter of Lebanon and its sovereignty and stability.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was among other heads of state to express deep regret over the demise of the high-ranking Iranian official. He described Ayatollah Rafsanjani as an influential figure who was popular among the Iranian people.
Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, the leader of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, also sent a message of condolence to Ayatollah Khamenei, in which he hailed the late cleric as a well-known supporter of the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance.
He added that the Iranian cleric made great endeavors towards reinforcing unity among Muslim nations in the face of plots by the U.S., the Zionist regime and the mercenaries supporting Takfiri terrorists in the Middle East.
Condolences were also offered by former Turkish president Abdullah Gul, Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, Iraq’s former prime minister and current Vice President Nouri al-Maliki, Turkish Minister of European Union Affairs Omer Celik, the UN resident coordinator in Iran Gary Lewis, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifah, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Among other foreign officials and dignitaries who also sent their messages of condolence to Iran were Tajikistan’s President Imomali Rakhmon and, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Meanwhile, the Emir of Kuwait Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and Palestine’s Islamic Jihad Organization also expressed their sympathies over the passing away of Iran’s former president.
In a statement, a U.S. State Department official referred to Ayatollah Rafsanjani ?as a "prominent figure” throughout the history of Iran. "We send our condolences to his family and loved ones,” read the statement.
Rafsanjani helped establish the Combatant Clergy Association in 1977, which proved fatefully instrumental in the victory of the Islamic Revolution two years later.
He became Iran’s first Speaker of Parliament after the Revolution, serving until 1989.
In the same year, he was elected president, in which position he functioned until 1997.
He was also the chairman of the Expediency Council, a position he kept until his departure.
In a sign of mourning, Iranian national flags were also flown at half-staff at the country’s diplomatic missions in a number of countries, including Turkey, Syria and the United Arab Emirates.