The meeting of a far-right group in Kernersville has stirred fears across the state as Muslim leaders call on authorities to take action
Tom Jones, a soft-spoken man with white hair and wearing a slate-gray jacket, held up a copy of The Terrorist Next Door by the conservative author Erick Stakelbeck in the private dining room of a seafood restaurant in Kernersville, North Carolina, on a recent Thursday evening.
The presentation marked a coming-out of sorts for Jones, who had announced the event a month earlier at a regular weekly luncheon in nearby Winston-Salem that features different conservative speakers and Republican elected officials. About 20 people attended, representing professional conservative activists, GOP volunteers and militia types.
Reading from the text, Jones recited to about 20 of his fellow hard-right activists: “Brotherhood-linked organizations are establishing networks throughout the Bible belt.” Turning his head from right to left, he paused for dramatic effect and remarked: “I think that’s where we live.”
The Muslim Brotherhood, a culturally conservative organization founded in 1928 that briefly took power in Egypt after the Arab Spring, is the focal point of paranoid rightwing fears about a supposed Islamic plot to infiltrate and subvert American institutions from within and impose sharia law.
“A tactic that the Brotherhood has established over the years is establishing the presence of Islamic centers or mosques, which for them means a recruitment center for jihad, and forming a permanent foundation wherever they’re allowed to exist,” Jones said, continuing to read from Stakelbeck’s book.