Terrorists are ‘generally Muslims’ says Ryanair CEO

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary. (AFP)
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Updated 22 February 2020

Terrorists are ‘generally Muslims’ says Ryanair CEO

  • O'Leary: “If you are traveling with a family of kids, on you go; the chances you are going to blow them all up is zero.”
  • “Thirty years ago it was the Irish,” said the Irish businessman

LONDON: Muslim men should be profiled at airports as terrorists will “generally be of a Muslim persuasion,” Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said in an interview published Saturday, sparking accusations of racism.

“Who are the bombers?” the budget airline’s controversial chief executive said while discussing airport security in the interview with the Times newspaper.

“They are going to be single males traveling on their own... If you are traveling 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.”

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A spokesman from the Muslim council of Britain accused O’Leary of “Islamophobia.”

In a statement, he 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.

“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 #flyingwhilstMuslim are well documented across the globe.

“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.”

British Islamophobia monitor Tell MAMA also released a statement, saying O'Leary's comments could be his “Gerald Ratner moment,” in reference to a speech made by the jewelry businessman which led to his company losing £500 million ($647 million) in value.

“Michael O’Leary wants airport profiling of Muslim men since he says ‘that is where the threat is coming from,’” it said.

“Besides being discriminatory and basing judgements 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.

“This could be a Gerald Ratner moment for O’Leary, where his flippant statements come back to serious affect his business.”

O’Leary was “encouraging racism,” Labour MP Khalid Mahmood told the Times.

“In Germany this week a white person killed eight people. Should we profile white people to see if they’re being fascists?”

The Ryanair CEO is known for his controversial views and has floated proposals to charge fliers to use the toilet during Ryanair flights and a “fat tax” on obese passengers.

Ryanair issued a statement on Saturday, which said O'Leary did not call for extra checks on any group or people. 

“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 spokesperson said.

“He apologises sincerely for any offence caused to any group by today's inaccurate headline.”


Thai protesters challenge king’s military command

Updated 21 min 5 sec ago

Thai protesters challenge king’s military command

  • Protesters accuse the monarchy of enabling decades of military domination
  • The Royal Palace has made no comment since the protests began

BANGKOK: Thai anti-government protesters challenged on Sunday King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s personal control over some army units to condemn the military’s role in politics.
It was the latest open defiance of the king by protesters, who have broken taboos by criticizing the monarchy in a country where it is officially revered under the constitution and laws to ban insulting it.
Hundreds of protesters gathered to march to the 11th Infantry Regiment, one of two units that were moved under the king’s command in 2019.
“An army should belong to the people, not the king,” Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak told reporters. “In a democratic system, the king is not responsible for directing command of the military.”
Protesters accuse the monarchy of enabling decades of military domination.
Parit is among several protest leaders who already face charges under lese majeste laws against insulting the monarchy after his speeches at previous rallies.
Protests which began in July initially demanded the departure of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former junta leader, and a new constitution, but now also seek to curb the powers of the king.
At the barracks, an advance guard of protesters set about removing razor wire barricades.
The foreign ministry said in a statement that the country adhered to the rule of law, but that the right to freedom of speech must keep within it.
“In every case where the law is violated, officials take action with strict adherence to the appropriate legal processes without discrimination,” the ministry said.
Prayuth has rejected protesters’ demands that he quit along with their accusations that he engineered last year’s election to keep power that he first took from an elected government in 2014.
The Royal Palace has made no comment since the protests began, but the king has said that despite their actions the protesters are loved “all the same.”