LONDON (Dispatches) – Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has been slammed for "abhorrent” remarks after saying Muslim men should be profiled at airports to prevent terrorism.
O’Leary, 58, didn’t say how security would tell what a Muslim looks like and was slammed for "encouraging racism with his "blinkered” view.
In an interview with The Times, 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.”
Hitting back, Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said: "If he can tell me what color Muslims are then I’d be very happy to learn from him – you can’t judge a book by its cover.
"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.”
Islamophobia support group Tell Mama said: "Besides being discriminatory and basing judgments 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.”
The group said this could be the chief executive’s "Gerald Ratner moment”, referring to the British businessman who nearly destroyed his multi-million dollar jewelry business by calling one of its decanter sets "total crap”.
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.”
A shooter with suspected far-right beliefs killed nine people at a shisha bar and a cafe in the German city of Hanau on Thursday, before apparently killing himself and his mother.
A Muslim prayer leader was also stabbed in the neck in front of hundreds of horrified onlookers at a mosque near Regent’s Park in the British capital London.