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Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary criticised over Muslim men comments

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Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary talks to the Globe and Mail at his headquarters at Dublin Airport, Ireland, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008.
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary talks to the Globe and Mail at his headquarters at Dublin Airport, Ireland, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Peter Morrison
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The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has slammed Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary over comments he made about Muslim men.

O'Leary told the Times newspaper that men travelling with a family of children pose less of a security threat than single Muslim males.

He was quoted as saying: "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 Muslim persuasion. Thirty years ago it was the Irish. If that is where the threat is coming from, deal with the threat."

The reaction to the comments

The MCB described the remarks as "racist and discriminatory", and said they are "the very definition of Islamophobia".

"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”, said a spokesperson.

Ryanair, in a statement sent to Euronews, said: "The headline in today’s paper is simply inaccurate. No call for extra checks on any group or persons was made. 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."

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.”

Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf also commented on O'Leary's remarks, and stressed that the "vast majority of those in Scotland's prisons on Terror-related offences are White non-Muslim males."

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".

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