Cubs, CAIR To Work Together Against Islamophobia

They will work together to promote diversity and awareness against Islamophobia.

February 18, 2019 - 9:31 am
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(670 The Score) Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts on Monday condemned hateful emails from his father, Joe Ricketts, and announced in a joint statement with the Chicago-based Council on American-Islamic Relations that his organization has an agreement for working together against Islamophobia.

The Cubs, CAIR and several other Muslim groups held a meeting on Feb. 8 after the revelation of racist and Islamophobic emails from Joe, the patriarch to the family's ownership group. The emails, which dated from 2009 to 2013, were released by Splinter News two weeks ago and included Joe Ricketts writing: "I think Islam is a cult and not a religion. Christianity and Judaism are ... based on love whereas Islam is based on ‘kill the infidel’ a thing of evil."

Ricketts spoke to the Cubs on Monday morning, as he does to begin every spring training, then addressed reporters about his father's emails and other subjects surrounding the organization.

"The emails that are in there were unacceptable and have no place," Ricketts said at spring training camp in Mesa, Arizona. "I apologized for the direct role with the team. It doesn't represent what this organization is. I also said I'm sorry for the distraction this may have created the last couple days.

"Those aren't values my family was raised with. To be honest, I was surprised by the emails. Our family was never raised that way. I've never heard my father say anything that was even remotely racist. It's just not our family values. So, I was a little bit surprised. 

"He acknowledged that those kind of statements cause pain. But I love him. That's my dad. He's a great man. He's done incredible things. He's helped children all over the world through his charities. He supports 1,700 schools in Africa. All over East Africa, too -- Islamic East Africa. He's done all the right things. 

"I love him. I don't see him in that light. He's a great man. It's just an unfortunate situation."

Joe Ricketts isn't a direct part of the Cubs' organization, though his wealth helped fund the family's purchase of the club in 2009. Tom Ricketts said he's unsure how or why the emails were released.

The Cubs' previous meeting between with CAIR included an apology from Tom Ricketts and stories being shared. The statement released Monday said that, "Both parties agreed to convert the unfortunate circumstances that brought the groups together into a positive opportunity to work together against hate and bigotry."

As part of their effort, the Cubs will include notable Muslims in Cubs and Wrigley Field traditions, feature anti-hate PSAs with team personnel helping to raise public awareness against Islamophobia and provide organizational support for three community initiatives: anti-bullying efforts, diversity and inclusion training and scholarships. Further details will be discussed in future meetings.

"We are encouraged the Cubs, led by Tom Ricketts, responded swiftly and genuinely in partnering with us to turn the situation around," CAIR-Chicago executive director Ahmed Rehab said in the statement. "As a result, the Cubs are taking a significant step forward and will use the power of their brand and voice to fight Islamophobia, racism and bigotry. We hope other franchises follow their lead. This active commitment to our shared values of Everybody In is not only great for the brand, but for all fans, for the affected communities and for our city as a whole."

Tom Ricketts struck a similar tone.

"We have a tremendous opportunity to further our commitment to diversity and inclusion by joining the Chicago Muslim community in its efforts to eradicate bigotry and Islamophobia," he said in the statement. "My family and I want to thank Ahmed Rehab and Chicago Muslim leaders for the opportunity to meet and have a frank and constructive dialogue about building a better future."