The leader of Britain's biggest Muslim group has attacked calls for "passenger profiling" on flights in the wake of the alleged airline bomb plot.

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, described the call from former Scotland Yard chief Lord Stevens as "an extreme form of stereotyping".

Writing in the News of the World, Lord Stevens said the airport chaos could be reduced by targeting passengers for more rigorous checks, with "young Muslim men" a focus.

Similar procedures had made Israeli airports the "safest in the world", he said.

The former Metropolitan Police Commissioner wrote that politicians should stop pandering to a "state of denial" among British Muslims that Islamic terrorism was "their problem".

He wrote: "I'm a white 62-year-old 6ft 4in suit-wearing ex-cop - I fly often, but do I really fit the profile of suicide bomber? Does the young mum with three tots? The gay couple, the rugby team, the middle-aged businessman?

"No. But they are all getting exactly the same amount and devouring huge resources for no logical reason whatsoever.

"Yet the truth is Islamic terrorism in the West has been universally carried out by young Muslim men, usually of ethnic appearance, almost always travelling alone or in very small groups.

"A tiny percentage, I bet, of those delayed today have such characteristics."

He added: "Of course, there will be instant squealings that this is racism. It's not.

"It's exactly the same as recognising that, during the Northern Ireland troubles that left thousands dead, the IRA were totally based in the Catholic community and the UVF in the Protestant."

But Dr Bari responded: "The fact is, what is a Muslim? Muslims come from the four corners of the world - they are black, white, Pakistani Asian origin, Bangladeshi Asian origin. "If you go for profiling, how do you do that?"

He said that such procedures would be "racist" if they targeted people along racial grounds.

"If it is (people of) Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin it comes down to race, if it is Muslims it comes down to religion."

He added: "This is an extreme form of stereotyping.

"Whatever situation everything should be intelligenceled, not appearance-led. If it is appearance-led there will be lots of issues and problems.