The far-right English Defence League is planning to stage a protest outside Britain’s biggest water park over what it has described as the hosting of “Muslim-only days” – despite no such event taking place.
The group objected to plans by Waterworld in Staffordshire to set aside two hours on the evening of Sunday 9 August for an event designed to be culturally sensitive to Muslim women who would otherwise not attend a water park.
The event, open to women of all religions as well as boys up to the age of four, was flagged up on the EDL’s Facebook page and members have since inundated the park’s social media pages with complaints.
Water park staff reportedly tried to explain on Facebook that the event was designed “towards making Waterworld accessible to all cultures/groups”, that any ladies “of all religions/beliefs” were invited and that attendants could wear any swimming costume as long as it was not likely to cause offence to Muslim women.
But that doesn’t seem to have placated the complaints, and Waterworld has now suspended its Facebook page.
In an event page on Facebook scheduled for 1pm on 1 August, the English Defence League Regional Demo at Water World also accused Waterworld of hosting an event “with [an] extremist linked group”.
This seems to be a reference to previous events at the park that were promoted by the charity Interpal, which has been dogged by accusations that it fundraises for Hamas in Gaza – claims that have repeatedly been thrown out by the Charity Commission.
Steve Rose, of the website Religious Reader, noted that these events are “not a rarity at Waterworld”, and said the park had been accused of being “racist” for holding them in the past.
One Staffordshire-based Muslim woman hailed the “sisters-only” evenings at Waterworld in a blog post as far back as 2011, noting that they were hugely popular and “a great chance to have fun with the girls as it is a very rare occasion”.
Waterworld, which is still promoting the event on its website, was not immediately available for comment on the EDL’s planned protest.
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