A North Carolina inmate is accused of desecrating a copy of the Quran of a fellow inmate with "a sex act". The 35-year-old inmate at Gaston County Jail was charged with ethnic intimidation following the incident.

Jonathan Ross Compton was charged around 4am Friday (1 December), according to jail records. Compton was being held on a felony charge for failing to appear when the alleged incident occurred at around 2am that day.

Muslim inmate Abdur Abdulkhafid, who was sharing a jail cell with Compton, told deputies that Compton had ejaculated into his copy of the book which is revered by followers of Islam.

Officials said that after "damaging and defacing" the religious book, Compton referred to 39-year-old Abdulkhafid by a racial slur used against black people. The Charlotte Observer reported that it could also be used as an anti-gay slur.

Inmates are permitted to have copies of religious texts with them in their cells, jail officials said. According to the Gaston Gazette, Abdulkhafid was booked into jail on 2 November on charges of violating a domestic violence protection order and simple assault.

The incident prompted outrage from the Muslim community. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said he hopes law enforcement in Gaston County will treat the case the same as a hate crime committed outside of jail.

"It's the same kind of act, and should be treated the same for someone who is an inmate as it would be for someone who was attending a mosque during daily life," Hooper said, according to the Observer.

"We hope they [deputies] are taking it seriously and it will be moved through the legal system and the alleged perpetrator is punished."

Compton, who remained at the Gaston County Jail, had his bond raised by $5,000 to $15,000 in total. It is the seventh time Compton has been arrested in Gaston County in the last two years, according to jail records.