Amir Taheri offers some interesting background on recent real-estate development in Bam. After numerous destructive quakes in Bam in the 20th century, Taheri writes, Iran declared an end to construction in the city. Then came the Khomeini revolution.
"The revolutionary turmoil of 1978-79 provided racketeers with an opportunity to seize large chunks of land in Bam and use it for poorly designed and badly constructed houses and shops. The racket was backed by a group of powerful mullahs who, in exchange for a cut in the proceeds, issued fatwas (religious opinions) that canceled government orders that banned house-building in the city.
"The mullahs claimed that the shah had wished to keep Bam empty because of a secret plan under which the city would be turned into a Zoroastrian center. They also dismissed warnings from the National Seismological Center in Tehran that opposed the repopulation of Bam. The mullahs claimed that the Hidden Imam would protect the new inhabitants of the city against all disasters.
"Thus," according to Taheri, "more than half of those who died in the earthquake could be regarded as victims of a racket ran by mullahs and their associates with the help of religious prejudice and superstition."