Ryanair’s boss Michael O’Leary has come under fire for his new comments about Muslims and air travel which have been described as “openly racist”.
The Chief Executive of the airline was asked about travel safety and airport security in an interview with The Times and he 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.”
“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.”
Ryanair spoke out against the interview which was published under the headline “Airline boss wants extra checks on Muslim men” which they claim Michael O’Leary did not say.
In response, Ryanair said in a statement, “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. He apologises sincerely for any offence caused to any group by today’s inaccurate headline.”
In response to the interview, the British Muslim Council said in a statement, “These comments are openly racist. 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.”
They added, “Institutional discrimination against Muslims is well established: whether it is the ability to get a job, buy a flat or even getting car insurance. The challenges of #flyingwhilstMuslim are well documented across the globe. 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.”