Ryanair has denied that airline boss Michael O’Leary called for Muslim men to face extra security checks at airports, after he sparked outrage for suggesting male Muslim men travelling alone are more likely to carry out acts of terror.
It comes amid calls to boycott the budget airline after comments made by O’Leary in The Times newspaper stating terrorists ‘will generally be males of a Muslim persuasion’ sparked a race row.
Mr O’Leary said that families with young children should be let through security as they are less likely to ‘blow’ people up.
The 58-year-old added that the only way to ‘deal with the threat’ was to vet ‘single male’ Muslims travelling on their own.
Ryanair has denied that airline boss Michael O’Leary (pictured) called for Muslim men to face extra security checks at airports
Ryanair denied that Mr O’Leary had called for Muslim men to face extra security checks before boarding a plane.
‘Michael was only calling for more effective airport security checks which would do away with much of the unnecessary queues at airport security today for all passengers,’ a spokesman said in a statement.
The Muslim Council of Britain said his comments amounted to discrimination against Muslim passengers as they branded it ‘racist’.
And hate-crime monitoring group Tell Mama suggested his ‘flippant’ words could end up having serious consequences for the budget airline.
Mr O’Leary had told The Times: ‘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.’
He 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 Muslim Council of Britain said the comments amounted to discrimination against Muslim passengers as they branded the comments ‘racist’
Hate-crime monitoring group Tell Mama suggested Mr O’Leary’s ‘flippant’ words could end up having serious consequences for the budget airline
A spokeswoman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: ‘Michael O’Leary should be under no illusion: his comments are racist and discriminatory.
‘He openly advocates discrimination against ‘males of a Muslim persuasion’, which presumably is not based on specific intelligence but solely whether someone ‘looks or acts like a Muslim’.
‘This is the very definition of Islamophobia.’
The spokeswoman said Muslims already face challenges in airline travel and added: ‘It is a shame that such racism is being expressed so openly, and that the CEO of a large airline would so want to discriminate against his customers so brazenly.’
The 58-year-old added that the only way to ‘deal with the threat’ was to vet ‘single male’ Muslims travelling on their own
And Tell Mama said the comments could come back to bite Mr O’Leary’s business, likening them to jewellery firm boss Gerald Ratner’s disastrous remark in 1991 when he called one of his own products ‘total crap’ and was later axed after profits tumbled.
In a statement posted on Twitter the group said: ‘Besides being discriminatory and basing judgements on the ‘looks’ of people, which is abhorrent, O’Leary clearly does not know about the history of terrorism, where people have used others to bypass this blunt and divisive technique.
‘This could be a Gerald Ratner moment for O’Leary, where his flippant statements come back to seriously affect his business.’
His comments have also been slammed by a Labour MP for ‘encouraging racism’.
Mr O’Leary 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’
Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said Mr O’Leary was ‘encouraging racism’ and asked why he wouldn’t suggest white people be given the same treatment ‘to see if they’re being fascists’.
‘If he can tell me what colour Muslims are then I’d be very happy to learn from him – you can’t judge a book by its cover,’ he told the Times.
He added: ‘In Germany this week a white person killed eight people. Should we profile white people to see if they’re being fascists?
‘He’s being very blinkered and is actually encouraging racism.’
The airline chief is no stranger to controversial remarks – particularly his criticisms of environmentalists and travel agents.
Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said Mr O’Leary was ‘encouraging racism’ and asked if it means we should ‘profile white people to see if they’re being fascists’
He once said: ‘The best thing you can do with environmentalists is shoot them.’
Mr O’Leary also believes travel agents deserve the same treatment, saying once: ‘Screw the travel agents.
‘Take the f***ers out and shoot them. What have they done for passengers over the years?’
He famously proposed coin-operated toilets on flights and dressed up as the pope to launch Ryanair’s new route from Dublin to Rome.
He once addressed Ryanair customers asking for their money back with: ‘You’re not getting a refund so f**k off. We don’t want to hear your sob stories. What part of ‘no refund’ don’t you understand?’
The airline chief is no stranger to controversial remarks – particularly his criticisms of environmentalists
The Ryanair boss once made a joke about the budget airline he runs, claiming his flights are fuelled with ‘Leprechaun wee’ and his ‘bulls**t’.
And when describing himself, he has often used choice phrases, including: ‘People either see me as Jesus, Superman or an odious little s**t. I think I’m Jesus. A prophet in his own time.’
Mr O’Leary’s remarks came the day after a white female Muslim convert admitted plotting a suicide bomb attack on St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Safiyya Amira Shaikh, 36, was born Michelle Ramsden but converted to Islam in 2007 and is believed to have become radicalised in 2015 after following extremists online.