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Iranians consider the future of their country as President Raisi is laid to rest

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The body of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was laid to rest Thursday in his hometown of Mashhad. Raisi and his foreign minister died in a helicopter crash in mountainous terrain. The burial followed mourning ceremonies attended by thousands of Iranians in cities across the country. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports that attention is already turning to who may have the inside track to become Iran's next president.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Singing in non-English language).

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Raisi's casket traveled around Iran, drawing huge crowds at every stop, before he was interred at the Imam Reza shrine, the country's holiest burial site. So far, those believed to be in the running to succeed Raisi include Mohammad Mokhber, the acting president, and Iran's parliament speaker, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf. Former parliament head Ali Larijani has also been mentioned, as has Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's son Mojtaba. Fariba (ph), a 25-year-old Tehran resident who works in advertising, says she isn't mourning Raisi's passing because of all the political prisoners he ordered executed as a judge.

FARIBA: (Through interpreter) I am happy that Raisi has died, very happy. And this doesn't mean that the conditions of life in Iran will change because he died. But because this president was responsible for so many deaths, he has taken away the loved ones of thousands of people.

KENYON: Fariba says she would be thrilled if Raisi's death leads to a more open and democratic country, but she thinks the reverse is more likely.

FARIBA: (Through interpreter) I think the oppression is going to increase in Iran in the coming years. For as long as there is no preventative power in Iran to stand against the backwards laws here, for sure oppression is going to increase.

KENYON: Negar (ph), a 37-year-old schoolteacher in western Iran, says she isn't optimistic about the future.

NEGAR: (Through interpreter) About having a hope for freedom, well, no. I personally do not think there will be any more social freedom. It's not at all that people think there will be a great change for the better for them. They are just enjoying a fleeting breeze of revenge.

KENYON: Presidential elections are set for June 28, but Negar says any candidate she could support is unlikely to make it onto the ballot. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Istanbul. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Peter Kenyon is NPR's international correspondent based in Istanbul, Turkey.