RYANAIR boss Michael O’Leary last night sparked fresh fury by refusing to withdraw his claim that Muslim men are the most likely to bomb planes.
Mr O’Leary, 58, had said terrorists would “generally be males of a Muslim persuasion” and urged airport security to focus on them to cut queues.
Muslim campaigners branded his comments racist. But the airline boss triggered more anger by issuing a half-baked apology.
Ryanair insisted an “inaccurate” headline suggesting its chief wanted extra checks on Muslim men had sparked the furore.
It added: “Michael was only calling for more effective airport security checks which would do away with much of the unnecessary queues at airport security today.
"He apologises sincerely for any offence caused to any group by today’s inaccurate headline.”
Outspoken Mr O'Leary of the budget carrier made the controversial comments in an interview with The Times.
Charities and an MP blasted Mr O'Leary's remarks and accused him of Islamophobia and racism.
Mr O'Leary said: "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.
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“You can’t say stuff, because it’s racism, but it will generally be males of a Muslim persuasion."
He added: "Thirty years ago it was the Irish. If that is where the threat is coming from, deal with the threat.”
The Muslim Council of Britain said the Irish businessman's comments were racist and discriminatory.
A spokesman said: "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."
Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, who is Muslim, blasted Mr O'Leary's comments, which came two days after a far-right terrorist massacred ten people in a shooting in Germany.
Mr Mahmood said: “He’s effectively saying ‘everyone is game — if they look like a Muslim then they must be a terrorist’.
"It doesn’t improve community relations; it gives succour to people of a fascist mindset.
"In Germany this week a white person killed eight people. Should we profile white people to see if they’re fascists?
"He’s being very blinkered and is actually encouraging racism.”
Mr O'Leary's remarks come the day after a white female Muslim convert admitted plotting a suicide bomb attack on St Paul's Cathedral in London.
Safiyya Amira Shaikh, 36, was born Michelle Ramsden but converted to Islam in 2007 and is believed to have become radicalised in 2015 after following extremists online.
The airline chief is no stranger to controversial remarks.
He once said: "The best thing you can do with environmentalists is shoot them."
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Mr O'Leary also believes travel agents deserve the same treatment, saying once: "Screw the travel agents.
"Take the f***ers out and shoot them. What have they done for passengers over the years?"
He famously proposed coin-operated toilets on flights and dressed up as the pope to launch Ryanair's new route from Dublin to Rome.
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