The chief executive officer of Ryanair has sparked outrage after calling for the profiling of Muslim men at airports, claiming “bombers” will “generally be of a Muslim persuasion”.
Michael O’Leary made the remark while discussing airport security with the Times of London newspaper.
In the interview published on Saturday, the airline’s controversial boss said: “Who are the bombers? They are going to be single males travelling on their own… If you are travelling with a family of kids, on you go; the chances you are going to blow them all up is zero.”
The 58-year-old added: “You can’t say stuff, because it’s racism, but it will generally be males of a Muslim persuasion. Thirty years ago it was the Irish.
“If that is where the threat is coming from, deal with the threat.”
The Ryanair CEO is known for his controversial views and has floated proposals to charge fliers to use the toilet during Ryanair flights and a “fat tax” on obese passengers.
The Muslim Council of Britain called the comments “racist and discriminatory”. A spokeswoman said it was a scandal that such racism was expressed “so openly and brazenly.”
O’Leary was “encouraging racism”, Labour MP Khalid Mahmood told the Times.
“In Germany this week a white person killed eight people. Should we profile white people to see if they’re being fascists?” the legislator said, referring to a mass shooting in the southwestern town of Hanau late on Wednesday.
O’Leary’s comments also sparked outrage online, with some people calling for a boycott of the budget airline.
Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks, a monitoring group in the UK, said the remarks were abhorrent.
Scotland’s Justice Minister Humza Yousaf condemned the comments on Twitter, writing, “awful from Michael O’Leary suggesting racial profiling to be introduced at airports.”
The level of casual Islamophobia in the CEO class is incredible. Remember that there are so many people who have tremendous power who are also racists and can enforce their racist views. https://t.co/rV3z7EUWEU
— Heidi N. Moore (@moorehn) February 22, 2020
Yeah you've lost my business. I fly with you regularly, but you're after calling me a terrorist because of my religion, so I'll take my money elsewhere.
— I'm tired (@ginmhilleadh1) February 22, 2020
Very simple solution – Muslims should boycott Ryanair and this CEO. Racial & religious profiling is very disturbing.
— syedkamil1961 (@syedkamil1961) February 22, 2020