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Muslim Swimming Event Stirs Controversy in France

In a recent undated handout picture released by British retailer Marks and Spencer on April 8, 2016 a model poses wearing one of Marks and Spencer's full-body bathing suit or burkini suit.

The mayor of a French town near a prominent Muslim community says he will try to ban a planned swimming event at a local water park that would require women to be covered in traditional Islamic clothing.

The activity organized by the Smile 13 women’s association has stirred controversy in secular France.

The group, which presents itself as a “socio-cultural, sports and aid association,” announced on its Facebook page that it has reserved the Speed Water Park near Marseille for a September 10 event, only for women, girls, and boys under 10.

Speaking Thursday to Le Parisen newspaper, Mayor Michel Amiel of the town of Pennes-Mirabeau, where the swimming park is located, said he was so "shocked and angry" by the "provocation" that he intended to ban the event on grounds it is likely to cause “public disorder.”

Ahead of the so-called Burkini Day, Smile 13 advised compliance with Islamic rules demanding Muslim women be covered chest to knees. The announcement also said the need for burkinis was based on the fact that there would be male lifeguards on duty.

The burkini came under fire in France earlier this year as some fashion brands launched Islamic clothing lines.