On September 25, 2001, a group of Christian men boarded a bus at the border between Jordan and Israel, and were taken to a detention center in the city of Jenin, north of the West Bank.
They were then taken to the Jordanian town of al-Mughrabi, where they spent several days before being released.
The men were the only Christians among a group that made up the Shura Council of al-‘Ilhami, a Sunni Muslim sect that has existed in Jordan for more than a century.
The group’s name is a play on the word shura, the Arabic word for unity.
The Shura council was established by Jordanian emir Abdullah bin ‘Abdullah al-Sudani, who ruled Jordan from 1967 until 1975, and who later became Jordan’s prime minister.
He also was the country’s first Muslim prime minister and a founding member of the Islamic Front, a leftist group that sought to overthrow the monarchy in 1974.
The council, however, was not an isolated phenomenon.
For decades, it was tolerated by the Jordanian authorities.
It was a secular, moderate, and nonsectarian organization, said Shabbir Ahmed, a professor of Middle East studies at the University of Maryland.
Its members were mostly religious, secularists, and members of other sects, he said.
It included members of a variety of religious and cultural groups, including Christians, Muslims, Jews, and even members of the Yazidi minority.
The al-Shura council’s members were allowed to visit each other, live among each other’s relatives, and work together in fields like agriculture.
The sect was able to reach out to the larger Jordanian society because it did not have to abide by the strict Islamic laws of the time.
“There were no restrictions on how many marriages or how many children they had,” said Ahmed.
The leaders of the group were allowed visits with their families and could attend church services together.
Al-Shuras members could marry outside the country.
In a few instances, members of al’-Shura were allowed into the Westbank to help the local families rebuild their villages.
“The idea was to help rebuild their homes, their land, their villages, and provide them with the resources they needed,” said Ahmad.
In the years after the group was established, however.
things began to change.
The region was flooded with refugees.
In some places, the refugees brought the Shuras with them.
In others, they were forced to leave.
According to Ahmed, the migration of the Shuras into the area of al’Mughriniyah has left many families unable to rebuild their own villages.
One such family is named Khayam al-Dalal.
“This is a very large village, and when we came here, there were no houses,” said Khayampal.
In this village, his parents and two sisters were living in the same house, so they were separated by the water.
“They had to stay in the house, but there were three girls in the room and I was alone,” he said, adding that the women were forced into a tent.
“I was sleeping with my hands tied behind my back, and the girls were with me.”
After Khayama and his sister, the girls and their families had no choice but to flee the village.
“We did not know where to go,” said the girl.
“No one knew what to do with us,” he added.
Khayameh and his family eventually settled in a small town called al-Khadir.
Khaysan was still living in his village, so he and his sisters went to the neighboring town of Bani al-Baida, which was also full of refugees.
They made friends with a few other refugees and formed an association to help them find employment.
“A lot of refugees from the West are not able to get a job,” said Khalil al-Ghalib, a 25-year-old man from Bani and the president of the al-Najra Council of Bint Jbeil, an Islamic organization.
“And I believe that our work here is not only for the refugees, but also for the locals, and this is a way to help these people,” he told Al Jazeera.
The people of al Mughrinyah had not been able to rebuild after the floods of refugees left them without the means to support themselves.
Khai, who worked as a barber in al-Qassab refugee camp, was one of the few who was able find work.
He said that after the influx of refugees, many of his colleagues left to join the local tribes.
“Before, there was no work, and people did not care for the work.
Now there is nothing, because the jobs are scarce,” said he.
The only jobs available were at the local border crossings, where Khai was forced to work.
Khailim was also forced to find