Michael O’Leary, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ryanair, has claimed that Muslim men should be profiled at airports. He argued that they pose a “threat” and should be targeted by authorities to prevent terrorist attacks. O’Leary made the comments in a new interview with the Times.
The comments come only days after a knife attack on a mosque in London which left one man injured after he was stabbed in the neck by a 29-year-old man.
The airline executive told the Times that families with children shouldn’t be targeted at airports. This is because the chances they will be terrorists “is zero”. However, he argued the opposite for single men.
O’Leary, asking “Who are the bombers?”, said they are “single men travelling on their own”. He then went further, declaring:
You can’t say stuff, because it’s racism, but it will generally be males of a Muslim persuasion.
And, he added:
If that is where the threat is coming from, deal with the threat.
O’Leary’s comments have been roundly criticised. Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, the Head Imam of the Islamic Centre of Ireland, said the comments were “disappointing”. Al-Qadri also opined that such comments add to the “racism and discrimination against the [Muslim] community”.
In a statement the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) declared that O’Leary’s comments were “the definition of Islamophobia”. And it voiced its frustration “that the CEO of a large airline would so want to discriminate against his customers so brazenly”.
The Dublin City Interfaith Forum (DCIF) also attacked O’Leary for his comments. In a press release it wrote that the CEO’s remarks “fuel an atmosphere already rife” with Islamophobia and anti-Islamic feelings. It went on, accusing him of:
feeding an ugly and growing reality of racism in Irish life with his comments; and considering that they come on foot of a racist and murderous incident in Germany only offers a wider context to his comments that make them even more reprehensible.
A report last year found that the main terrorist threat now comes from the far right. Research by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IED) found that there has been a “surge” in far-right terrorism even though deaths from terrorist attacks “peaked” in 2014.
In the last five years it noted that there has been a 320% increase in far-right attacks in this time period.
This article was updated on Saturday 22 February to include comments from the Dublin City Interfaith Forum.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons – World Travel & Tourism Council