US-Based Zoroastrian Priest Killed in Iran

A priest from the minority Zoroastrian community who lived in the United States has been killed on a visit to Iran, state news agency IRNA reported Sunday.

The website of the Amordad weekly paper on Zoroastrian affairs said the body of Arash Kasravi was found alongside those of his bodyguard and a nurse who also did domestic work.

They were discovered at a house in the southeastern province of Kerman, the area’s prosecutor Dadkhoda Salari told state television, saying the triple murder could have financially motivated.

“Three bodies were discovered in a villa in Mahan city and they were apparently murdered,” Salari told state television. “Investigations showed that one of them was Arash Kasravi, a member of the Zoroastrian religious minority.”

The prosecutor did not disclose the identity of the two other victims or say how they were killed. But he added that $10,000 were found in one of their cars.

Amordad said that Kasravi, who was born in 1967, was a US resident who had been living in California with his family for the past 10 years. He had returned to Iran in recent months to attend his father’s funeral and stayed for inheritance proceedings, but disappeared days ago.

Before his disappearance, he had been “threatened with death on several occasions” in relation to a row over land ownership. The nurse and the bodyguard whose bodies were also found on Sunday were not members of the Zoroastrian community, Amordad said.

Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion in Persia prior to the arrival of Islam. According to government figures, it counted around 23,100 members in 2016, mostly in Kerman and central Yazd province.  Iran officially recognises “Iranian Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians” as religious minorities.