LONDON (AP) – Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary is facing criticism for suggesting Muslim men should be singled out for extra scrutiny at airports.
The boss of the Irish budget carrier told Saturday’s Times of London that families with young children should not be subjected to airport security checks because there was “zero” chance of them being bombers. He said terrorists “will generally be males of a Muslim persuasion”.
“Thirty years ago it was the Irish,” he said. “If that is where the threat is coming from, deal with the threat.”
The Muslim Council of Britain called the comments “racist and discriminatory”. Tell Mama, a charity that monitors hate incidents against Muslims, said O’Leary’s “flippant” comments could harm Ryanair’s business.
Labour Party lawmaker Khalid Mahmood said O’Leary was “being very blinkered and is actually encouraging racism”.
O’Leary has a history of provocative remarks that keep Ryanair’s name in the headlines.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Times, O’Leary branded most airport security “utterly useless,” complained that airlines unfairly got the blame for climate change, and said requirements that Ryanair’s Dublin offices have disabled access to all floors were “nonsense”.