A hospital porter was “devastated” after he was sacked following a row with a Muslim doctor over a crucifix. Joseph Protano, a devout Roman Catholic, was a regular visitor to a prayer room open to all faiths at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. But Protono, 54, became increasingly angry to find that a crucifix and a statue of the Virgin Mary were regularly being left covered up. On one visit he discovered three Muslims – two patients and a consultant – inside the prayer room with the two icons masked by a cloth. A picture of the Virgin Mary had also been placed face down. The Muslims accused Protano of using racist language and assault, but he strongly denies the charges against him and claims they verbally abused him. Protano, from Salford, was suspended four days after the incident in December and has now been fired. He said he was unable to comment because he planned to appeal, but friends admitted he was “totally shocked and devastated”. Police released him after four hours of questioning following the assault complaint and passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide if he should be charged.