In an interview last weekend with the UK Times newspaper, the Ryanair chief executive pinpointed single Muslim men as a particular security threat and called for additional checks on them at airports.
His comments have drawn strong criticism from both within and beyond the Islamic community, with the Muslim Council of Britain noting that “the challenges of #flyingwhilstMuslim are well documented across the globe”.
Unions have spent the two years since Ryanair announced it would recognise unions trying to clean up the company’s labour practices. While workers have forced some positive change, Mr O’Leary’s appalling comments demonstrate that the company’s reactionary and bigoted management culture is still in need of overhauling.
Wiebke Warneck, ETF assistant political secretary for civil aviation, said: “Michael O’Leary has a long track record of hateful comments against a range of groups: workers, disabled people and now Muslims. As trade-unionists we stand up to all forms of racism and discrimination, and we condemn Mr O’Leary’s comments in the strongest terms.”
David van de Geer, organiser with Dutch union FNV, said: “We cannot stay silent while the chief executive of one of the major companies in our sector spreads these kinds of hateful messages. We are an inclusive movement with a very strong stance against racism and religious discrimination, and we stand alongside our Muslim colleagues against Michael O’Leary’s bigotry.”