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This Is What It's Like When An Iranian Pop Star Dies

Thousands of people took to the streets to commemorate Morteza Pashaei, a 30-year-old singer who died of cancer late last week.

Posted on November 17, 2014, at 4:22 p.m. ET

Morteza Pashaei is an Iranian singer who died of stomach cancer late last week. He never got to hear most of his songs play on state television as authorities considered the majority of them to be "too romantic."

Abedin Taherkenareh / Via European Press Agency

Pashaei was still wildly popular in Iran, especially for the song “Negarane Mani,” or “You Are Worried About Me.”

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Literally thousands of people turned up at his funeral on Sunday. Enough people showed up that his burial at the Behesht Zahra cemetery "was delayed for several hours because of the huge crowd."

Abedin Taherkenareh / Via European Pressphoto Agency

“We will bury him in secret, in a better organized ceremony,” Mr. Pashaei’s promoter, Mohammad Hossein Toutounchian, told the Iranian Students’ News Agency.

Abedin Taherkenareh / Via European Pressphoto Agency

The spontaneous crowds that formed following the news of his death "were among the largest in Iran since the mass protests over the disputed 2009 election," the New York Times reported.

Abedin Taherkenareh / Via European Pressphoto Agency

The outpouring reportedly surprised Iranian officials, who had tried — but failed — to gather such crowds following the death of one of Iran's leading clerics.

Abedin Taherkenareh / Via European Pressphoto Agency

"After initially ignoring the response to Mr. Pashaei’s death," the Times notes, "the official Iranian media on Sunday widely covered the start of the funeral, showing images of the coffin draped in the Iranian flag."

Abedin Taherkenareh / Via European Pressphoto Agency

Some sites "stressed that the public commemorations were not protests" and "quoted Pashaei’s father as saying that the singer had 'always loved the Islamic Republic' and had planned to go on a religious pilgrimage before his death," the Times concluded.

Abedin Taherkenareh / Via European Photopress Agency

H/T The New York Times