LOS ANGELES – A Muslim woman who said she ordered a Koran through Amazon.com (search) only to find profanity and religious slurs written inside asked Wednesday for an apology and a full investigation by the online retailer.
Azza Basarudin (search), 30, said she received the Koran by mail on May 5 after ordering it through a used books division of Amazon.com that allows customers to order directly from third-party sellers approved by the company.
When she opened the Koran, Basarudin said she found profanity and the phrase "Death to all Muslims" written in thick black marker on the otherwise-blank first page.
"I dropped the book because I didn't know what to do," she said at a news conference at the Islamic Center of Southern California (search).
Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said his organization wants a public apology and investigation from Amazon.com, as well as the firing of those responsible for mailing the desecrated book.
Patty Smith, a spokeswoman for the Seattle-based book retailer, said the Koran was purchased directly from Bellwether Books, a small book resale company in McKeesport, Pa., through the "Marketplace" section of Amazon's Web site.
"This was not our inventory, it was nowhere in our order or fulfillment process," she said. "It was a used book purchased through a third party."
Richard Roberts, owner of Bellwether, said he doubts the book was defaced by his employees. The company buys used books at bargain prices from individuals, other book stores and libraries and then resells them through Amazon.com and other outlets.
He said before this incident, his six employees gave each book a cursory check before shipping and didn't look inside the pages.
Roberts said Bellwether has since instituted a more stringent quality control check. Bellwether is also suspended indefinitely from selling Korans through Amazon.com, Smith said.
Bellwether apologized to Basarudin by e-mail and offered to replace the book. Amazon.com also apologized, reimbursed her for the Koran's cost and mailed Basarudin a gift certificate, Smith said.