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Amazon takes heat over selling items disrespecting Hindu gods

Toilet seat covers, shoes and rugs with images of deities spotted on platform

Thousands of users join the boycott of Amazon after the company is spotted selling shoes and rugs with images of Hindu deities.   © Reuters

MUMBAI (Reuters) -- Amazon.com faced a social media backlash in India on Thursday after toilet seat covers and other items emblazoned with images of Hindu gods were spotted on its website.

Thousands of Twitter users backed a call for a boycott of the U.S. retailer, making #BoycottAmazon India's top trending topic on Twitter. Some tagged Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, urging her to take action against the company.

Amazon, the world's biggest online retailer, said it was removing the products from its online store.

"All sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who do not will be subject to action including potential removal of their account," the company said in a statement.

The episode is reminiscent of an incident in 2017 when the Indian government took Amazon to task after its Canadian website was spotted selling doormats resembling India's flag.

Twitter user Sumit Kadel shared the link to a Amazon vendor who sells toilet seat covers and rugs imprinted with Hindu deities. The page is now unavailable.    © Screenshot of Sumit Kadel's tweet

Swaraj at the time threatened to rescind visas of Amazon employees if the doormats were not removed from its site.

Reuters found several listings of toilet seat covers, yoga mats, sneakers, rugs and other items depicting Hindu gods, or sacred Hindu symbols, on Amazon's U.S. website.

Some of the items were no longer available for purchase.

"Until you hit these Hinduphobics Business hard they will keep on insulting your gods, your beliefs & your entire civilization," tweeted Sumit Kandel, whose profile describes him as a film trade analyst. 

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