The CEO of one of the world’s largest airlines is facing criticism after saying Muslim men should be profiled at airports.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, 58, made the comment during an interview with The Times, saying that “males of a Muslim persuasion” who are traveling alone are more likely to be “bombers” and pose a higher risk to airlines than other passengers.
He went on to say that profiling of Muslim families doesn’t have to be as strict because “the chances [they] are going to blow them all up is zero.”
“You can’t say stuff, because it’s racism,” O’Leary, who’s held Ryanair’s CEO position since 1994, told The Times. “Thirty years ago, it was the Irish. If that is where the threat is coming from, deal with the threat.”
O’Leary, one of the wealthiest men in Ireland, faced criticism from hate crime monitoring groups and Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, who accused the airline CEO of Islamophobia in a comment to Sky News.
The Muslim Council of Britain told the Guardian: “This is the very definition of Islamophobia. 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 flying while Muslim are well documented across the globe.
Ryanair told Sky News that O’Leary’s statements were “simply inaccurate.”
“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.
O’Leary’s interview with the Times included a number of disparaging comments, including calling the need for wheelchair facilities on every floor of a Dublin office building “complete and utter nonsense.” He made fun of transgender rights and the need for gender-neutral bathrooms; and called obese passengers “monsters” who should consider buying two seats.