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Chicago Cubs to partner with Muslim groups amid backlash to owner's Islamophobic emails

The Chicago Cubs will partner with local Muslim groups to combat Islamophobia and bigotry amid widespread backlash to racist emails sent by one of the team's owners.

The Cubs and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a joint statement late Monday that the two sides recently held a "productive meeting," and developed concrete steps for the team to take moving forward. 

Those steps include taking part in anti-bullying and anti-hate efforts, and including prominent Muslims in team traditions.

"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.

The organizations said they discussed the history of Muslims in America, and members of CAIR "raised doubt about the family and organization's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion" after reading emails from Joe Ricketts, the patriarch of the family that owns the team. 

In emails published earlier this month, Ricketts and others discussed conspiracy theories about former President Obama's birthplace and religion, and referred to Islam as a "cult."

Ricketts later apologized, but local politicians, Major League Baseball and Muslim groups condemned his comments.

Ricketts attended the recent meeting with representatives from CAIR. The two groups discussed a proposed plan of action that includes the participation of notable Muslims in Cubs and Wrigley Field traditions and the creation of anti-hate PSAs that feature Cubs personnel.

The Cubs and members of the Muslim community will hold additional meetings in the future to solidify details of the outreach efforts.

"We are encouraged that 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 a statement.

"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," he added.

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