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Cubs to meet with local Muslim groups in wake of Joe Ricketts’ racist emails

CAIR-Chicago hosted a press conference Tuesday in the wake of Joe Ricketts' racist emails. | Madeline Kenney/Sun-Times

Many Cubs fans, especially those who are Muslim, felt betrayed and hurt after leaked emails from Cubs ownership patriarch and TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts revealed racist jokes and Islamophobic rhetoric.

The Chicago chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations on Tuesday said Ricketts’ emails sent a shock wave through the city’s Muslim community, and executive director Ahmed Rehab called the comments ‘‘alarming and highly disappointing.’’

‘‘Bigotry has no home in Chicago,’’ Rehab said. ‘‘The idea that Muslims do not belong or are a threat to our culture is a tired, old Islamophobic trope that is disproven every day through living, working, contributing and leading in America, our home. It is lazy, ignorant and, moreover, blatantly false. We expect and demand better.’’

Asha Binbek, an avid Cubs fan and the communication coordinator for CAIR-Chicago, described Ricketts’ emails as ‘‘shocking,’’ ‘‘hurtful’’ and ‘‘untrue.’’

‘‘Honestly, I’m a bit heartbroken,’’ a teary-eyed Binbek said. ‘‘And what I would like to see is some reconciliation for the Cubs to prove that they really are ‘Everybody In’ and that they really are inclusive and that they want their fans there, no matter where they come from, no matter what they believe in.’’

The website SplinterNews.com on Monday released several emails Ricketts sent and received from December 2009 to March 2012. In some of them, he shared anti-Muslim beliefs.

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‘‘Islam is a cult and not a religion,’’ he wrote in one 2010 email to his son Pete. ‘‘Christianity and Judaism are based on love, whereas Islam is based on ‘kill the infidel,’ a thing of evil.’’

Major League Baseball said it was aware of Ricketts’ comments, which it called ‘‘extremely offensive and completely at odds with the values and principles’’ of the game.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel also slammed Ricketts for his ‘‘bigoted opinions.’’

‘‘The ignorance and intolerance [Ricketts] has espoused are not welcome in Chicago,’’ Emanuel said in a statement.

Shortly after the emails were made public, Ricketts said he deeply regretted them and apologized ‘‘for some of the exchanges.’’ Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts tried to distance the team from his father, who approved the cash portion of the family’s leveraged $845 million purchase of the Cubs in 2009.

But CAIR-Chicago demanded more than a ‘‘mere apology that could be dismissed as apologizing for being caught.’’ The Cubs and Tom Ricketts have reached out to CAIR-Chicago and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. They hope to meet face-to-face as early as next week.

‘‘We’re coming with an open mind to the conversation,’’ said Rehab, who doesn’t plan to boycott the Cubs as of now. ‘‘ . . . There might be genuine remorse [from the Rickettses], and we would be open to that. And if that is the case, we can move forward.’’

Contributing: Gordon Wittenmyer