What some observers described as the largest public outpouring of grief in Iran since Ayatollah Khomeini's funeral in 1989 wasn't free from bloodshed, as dozens died during a stampede in Monday's funeral procession for Qassem Soleimani, the iconic Iranian general killed by the US during a visit to Baghdad last week.
According to WSJ, 32 people died during the stampede, and another 190 were injured, as the crowd panicked during the ceremony in Iran's Kerman province, where Suleimani was set to be buried on Tuesday, after the ceremony was postponed as crowds from the procession blocked vehicles from getting to the cemetery on Monday. Other reports put the death toll as high as 40.
The regime said the stampede was caused by overcrowding, and denied that the stampede was the result of an attack. Government officials said ambulances were ready along the route of the procession in case of an incident.
Video from the scene that circulated on social media appeared to show first responders desperately trying to revive injured men lying on the ground.
Meanwhile, Iranian leaders issued more threats of retaliation on Tuesday, the fourth and final day of mourning for the general. And as if that weren't enough, Iran's Parliament on Tuesday passed a bill labeling the entire US military as a terrorist organization.
"I say the last word first. We will take revenge," said Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, a commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, speaking at Gen. Soleimani’s funeral procession in Kerman province.
"If they make another move, we will set fire to the place they love," said Gen. Salami, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.
In a telling example of just how much time it can take for news to trickle out of Iran, word of the deadly stampede only reached western media outlets early Tuesday morning in New York. Most of the footage from the funeral hit early on Monday, which is when footage of Ayatollah Khamenei chanting at the state funeral (he also appears to be crying).
I am not shocked by the incompetence of Ayatollah Khamenei. Much of his prayer recitation over #QassemSulaimani was wrong. He doesn’t know how to pray or structure sentences properly and is totally ignorant of ‘plural and singular’ rules. Yet he’s the “Deputy of the Infallibles.” pic.twitter.com/VC1tvsamr0— Imam of Peace / Pray for Peace... (@Imamofpeace) January 6, 2020
But apparently, because of the stampede, Suleimani's body hasn't actually been buried yet, and Western media outlets claimed that many of the 1 million or so attendees (roughly 1% of Iran's population) only attended because they feared retaliation from the state - though few deny that he was genuinely revered by thousands, if not millions, of Iranians.