Photo: Frans Persoon/Flickr
The Speed Water Park near Marseille, a city home to around 220,000 Muslims, has been reserved for the private event on September 10th, between 10am and 6pm.
Smile 13, which presents itself as a sports and social group for women and children wrote on a poster that during the eight-hour period the pool is “exclusively for women and children, and for boys up to the age of ten.”
And the women have been encouraged to comply with Islamic rules demanding Muslim women dress modestly and do not turn up in bikinis.
“We count on you to respect the AWRA (the body parts that must be covered according to Islamic law) and not come in a two piece (the body must be covered from the chest to the knees),” reads the message on the poster.
“The pool park has exceptionally allowed bathers to wear burqinis and jilbab de bains,” it added, referring to partial and full-body swimsuits that can cover a woman's body from head to feet and are popular among female Muslim bathers.
On Smile 13's Facebook group, organizers wrote that the need for burqinis was based on the fact that there would be male life guards on duty.
But the event has come up for some harsh criticism, not least from Michel Amiel, the mayor of the local Pennes-Mirabeau town.
He said he was so “shocked and angry” by the “provocation” that he intended to ban it.
“I'm taking up a city bylaw that can prohibit this event on the grounds that it is likely to cause public disorder,” he told Le Parisien newspaper.
“This is communalism, pure and simple,” referring to the principal of a prioritizing a certain ethnic grouping rather than a mixed society.
Républicain MP Valérie Boyer was also quick to the event would prove divisive.
“There is nothing innocuous about this: The battle of 'the veil' is a visible sign of fundamentalists wanting to mark their territory and subjugate women, like men, and to establish a territory where Islam appears uniform and in social control,” she said, reported L'Express newspaper.
She said it was a way for “Islamism to wear a uniform and exert real social control.”
Far-right National Front bigwig Florian Philippot also slammed it as communalism and said it would lead to public disorder.
Socialist politician Stephane Mari worried that the event would draw intensive media coverage.
If it goes ahead, it would “once again favour the party (that promotes) the values of hatred and exclusion,” he said in a reference to the xenophobic National Front.
Neither the waterpark nor Smile 13 could be reached for comment.
France's swimming pools usually have strict rules forbidding people swimming in certain clothes and the 2004 law banned the wearing of the Muslim headscarf and other religious signs in public buildings.
The burqini came under fire in France earlier this year after some fashion brands launched Islamic clothing lines.
Families Minister Laurence Rossignol expressed her shock at the “irresponsibility” of the brands, which included Dolce & Gabbana and H&M. French fashion designer Pierre Berge of Yves Saint Laurent fame said he was “scandalized” that such brands were “hiding women”.