The following is taken from the Sentinel website.
THE boss of Waterworld has vowed the venue will not be ‘bullied’ after plans for a far right demonstration against a women-only night were revealed.
Police have been notified about a planned English Defence League protest over the event.
Supporters of the far-right group plan to demonstrate outside WaterWorld in Festival Park one week before a ‘sisters-only’ evening.
The two-hour event on August 9 aims to allow women who would otherwise not be able to visit due to cultural sensitivities to enjoy the park.
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The windows will be blacked out, there will only be female lifeguards and visitors are asked to wear clothing that is ‘culturally and islamically appropriate’.
The EDL has branded the event as ‘oppressive’ and plan to protest on August 1.
But WaterWorld owner Mo Chaudry said he believed there was a gap in the market for such an event, which also allows in boys aged up to four.
He said all women, irrespective of faith or ethnicity, are welcome to attend and wear normal swimming costumes. But clothing must adhere to health and safety rules, and anyone wearing loose outfits or T-shirts would not be allowed on the rides.
He added: “I’m astonished that we have been targeted . We feel we’ve been victimised for offering something that we feel there is a demand for.
“This is no different to a ladies-only gym . It’s cheap, political manoeuvring.
“The event will go ahead. The only thing that would prevent it is a lack of demand. We’re not going to be bullied.”
EDL Staffordshire division leader Jennifer Stewart-Stevens said the protest will be confined to the venue.
The 30-year-old, who is willing to meet with Mr Chaudry, added: “We are supposed to live in a multi-cultural society. People need to integrate, not segregate. I appreciate Islam has got a culture of segregating women but if they are going to integrate they need to accept our traditions.
“We are not going to cause trouble. We are there to raise awareness. We are not anti-Islamic though, as a woman, I can see oppression in that religion.”
WaterWorld has pointed out it holds a number of events to cater for those who would otherwise be restricted. These include a singles night, a weekly wave rave for 10 to 14 year olds, a naturist night, events for guests with disabilities and male-only nights.
The protest has been referred to Staffordshire Police. Chief Inspector Neil Hulme, local policing commander for Stoke-on-Trent Central, said: “We are now gathering information and will be talking to all parties concerned to establish what is set to take place.”