Columnist and former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie has claimed that airport staff shouldn't bother frisking old white men, because they are "not the terrorists".
Only young Muslim men from the Middle East or Africa would carry a bomb onto a plane, the writer says, slamming security checks at a Dubai airport.
Writing in The Sun about a recent stopover in Dubai, 69-year-old MacKenzie, who is white, says he didn't understand why airport security personnel "wasted their time" searching him.
If the security guard had just had "a quick glance" at the photo of him on his Sun column, showing his race and age, he would have known "I was not going to be a terrorist", MacKenzie argues.
Only Muslims from the Middle east and Africa should be searched at the airport, the journalist writes, apparently supporting racial profiling.
"Racial profiling is an uncomfortable subject but everybody knows — especially the nervous employees at Dubai airport — that if a bomb is to be smuggled on to a plane it will be carried on by a Muslim from the Middle East or Africa."
Stopping "law-abiding, non-violent white people" at airports is foolish, he adds.
"They know who they are looking for. I am not one of them. And neither are you," MacKenzie concludes, calling on the Dubai airport to change its procedure.
Fiyaz Mughal, director of the Tell MAMA campaign which records anti-Muslim attacks, called MacKenzie's comments "wrong" and claimed they showed "breath-taking" arrogance.
He said: “Maybe Kelvin MacKenzie has missed the fact that terrorists can also be white and that it is not the domain of racial or religious groups or did he miss the dreadful impacts of Timothy McVeigh and Pavlo Lapshyn? The suggestion that white people have not been involved in terrorism racialises the issue when there are cases of individuals involved.
"Also, to suggest that profiling should take place and that Mr MacKenzie should not be checked thoroughly shows an arrogance that is breath-taking. Factually he is wrong and his rhetoric actually does not resonate with the wider public.”
MacKenzie's claim echoes a Daily Mail piece from 2012 arguing against a "catastrophically stupid" approach by staff at Gatwick Airport of white passengers being searched "despite being suspected of nothing at all".
"According to customs officials, white passengers are routinely stopped and searched to help avoid complaints of racial discrimination by black passengers who are the real targets," the piece claimed,
Jeremy Clarkson has also suggested that queues for airport border control checks could be solved by “a bit of racism.”
Writing in The Sun, the Top Gear host railed against "bleeding-heart liberals" who wanted airport staff to search people of all religions, rather than just "high risk" passengers.
"They believe that … a hook-handed imam with fire in his heart and hatred in his eyes is just as likely to whip up anti-western sentiment as Joanna Lumley,” Clarkson said.
But these thoughts could be contradicted by some recent cases, such as a 45-year-old Ukrainian national - thought to be white and Christian - who hijacked a plane and told cabin staff he had placed a bomb on board in 2014, although security found no sign of this when they diverted the aircraft.
Other white figures, such as 'Jihadi bride' Sally Jones and 'white widow' Samantha Lewthwaite, both young women, are prominent members of ISIS and Al-Shabab respectively.
In 2011, a white Kazakh man aged 48 was overpowered by cabin crew on a flight from Paris to Rome, after he drew out a knife and demanded the plane divert to Libya.
Philip Baum, a London-based aviation expert and managing director of Green Light Limited, a security company, argues that profiling works but should never be conducted on the basis of race, religion or skin colour: "Effective profiling is based on the analysis of the appearance and behavior of a passenger and an inspection of the traveler’s itinerary and passport."
In 2010, Baum was on a panel of seven aviation experts who blogged for The New York Times about whether racial profiling works. All agreed it was ineffective, with one noting: "Focus on one particular ethnicity or country of origin, and the terrorists will recruit from somewhere else."
Other research - covering the period before the rise of ISIS - suggests that the threat from Islamic extremists can be exaggerated in some areas. More than 90% of all terrorist attacks on US Soil between 1980 and 2005 were carried out by non-Muslims, according to the FBI.
Six per cent were carried out by Islamic extremists, compared to 42% from people of Latino origins, 24% from left wing extremists and 7% by Jewish extremists.Suggest a correction