The Northern League opposes the decision of the city of Siena to sign an Italian Lebanese artist to paint the banner (“drappellone”) that will be awarded to the winner of the famous horse race held in Siena (Palio). This year the banner is dedicated to Our Lady of Provenzano and also the Virgin Mary, who plays an important role both in the Bible and the Quran. The Northern League’s regional representative considers the decision a scandal for supposedly disregarding the Christian, Italian and Tuscan tradition of one of the most famous and beautiful cultural events in the world.
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.