Tel: 0800 456 1226
Date: 12/11/13
Embargo: None

Recent comments by Ryanair’s Chief Executive, Michael O’Leary, where he stated that the burqa should be banned, will no doubt leave many Muslims feeling that the controversial budget airlines chief has strayed into an area where he has little knowledge of. Members of the public who happen to be Muslim have also suggested to staff at the TELL MAMA project that his comments will not help the debate on this very sensitive of issues affecting a minority of Muslim women. Ryanair’s CEO also went onto say that the country is ‘leaning over far too much,’ for minority religions like Islam.

Previously, Michael O’Leary has also been on record as saying, “the French have never produced a great philosopher; great wine, maybe, but no great philosophers.” His equally offensive remarks have been targeted at Germans where he commented that, “Germans will crawl bollock-naked over broken glass to get low fares.”

Callers into the TELL MAMA project, many of whom have been women, regularly describe the abuse that they suffer at a street level due to their visibility, whether this is through wearing the Hijab (the religious head-covering), or the Hijab and the Niqab, (the full face veil). Some female callers specifically mentioned that such comments by the controversial Ryanair Chief Executive will simply add further focus on visible Muslim women at a time when many feel insecure after the post Woolwich backlash.

Commenting on the recent comments by the Ryanair CEO, the Director of TELL MAMA said:

“Michael O’ Leary really is scraping the bottom of the barrel for free press when he launches into a tirade against groups of people. Straying into a debate on what a woman can wear or not is a step too far or is he thinking of charging more for those who wear the Niqab?  We hope that he makes a speedy boarding and exit out of this debate.”


1) TELL MAMA is a national project that supports victims of anti-Muslim prejudice. Further information can be found on