A hospital porter has been fired after rowing with Muslim patients over a crucifix in a prayer room.
Roman Catholic Joseph Protano, 54, was offended when he entered Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital’s prayer room to find the crucifix and Virgin Mary statue covered up.
When he asked the three Muslims – two patients and a doctor – using the prayer room at the time to remove the cover and place an painting of the Virgin Mary face up, an argument broke out.
The room is available for worship and prayer by followers of all faiths.
Following the argument, Mr Protano was dismissed for gross misconduct and is appealing his firing.
Mr Protano was questioned by police on suspicion of religiously aggravated assault, but he was released without charge.
His friend said: “He was very shocked at the decision. He thinks he has been treated terribly.
“He loves his job and doesn’t do it for the money – until recently, his employers were paying just £5.88 an hour.
“They are saying he should not have gone into the prayer room and it is alleged he used racist language, which he totally refutes.
“His pay has been stopped, even though he intends to appeal, and he has had to sign on for benefits.”