Chicago Cubs, Muslims Agree to Combat Islamophobia

CHICAGO – In the first positive reaction to hate emails leaked from its billionaire owner, the Chicago Cubs and the local office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Monday announced a joint agreement to combat Islamophobia, bigotry, and racism, Chicago Tribune reported.

“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,” Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said in a 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.”

Ricketts met recently with leaders of Council on American-Islamic Relations-Chicago, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and the Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition after offensive emails came public.

In the emails, which Splinter News published earlier in February and included messages from 2009 to 2013, Joe Ricketts called Muslims his “enemy” and referred to Islam as a “cult” that is a “dangerous element in our society.”

In one 2012 email, the billionaire wrote that “we must be constantly vigilant against the antagonism and aggression of Muslims against us,” and he said he was considering having a book written about how “Islam crosses the line from religion to a cult.”

Tom Ricketts apologized and expressed his desire to heal relationships in the Chicago Muslim community and provide his support in the fight against Islamophobia.

“We are encouraged the Cubs, led by Tom Ricketts, responded swiftly and genuinely in partnering with us to turn the situation around,” Ahmed Rehab, the executive director of CAIR-Chicago, said in a 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.”

Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to an estimated Muslim minority of six to eight million.

American Muslims see rising Islamophobia as a major obstacle to their daily life.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a leading Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, said that anti-Muslim discrimination incidents and hate crimes increased in the third quarter of 2018 by 83 and 21 percent respectively, compared with the first quarter.

During 2018, CAIR documented more than 1,000 reports of potential bias incidents. The numbers include situations involving various government agencies.