NEW JERSEY (Diya TV) — Ravinder Bhalla, a councilman for the City of Hoboken, was attacked with a racially charged tweet Thursday morning after he shared the successful passing of a new measure that would add bicycle lanes to the city’s waterfront.
Robert Dubenezic, a supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, according to his Twitter page, promptly replied to Bhalla, saying his entrance into the U.S. should have never been allowed and called him a terrorist.
Bhalla offered the following response: “Sir, I am born & raised in America. You clearly don’t know what it means to be an American,” he replied, with the hashtag #ignorant.
During a later interview with NBC News, Bhalla said: “With a lot of the rhetoric we’re hearing from people like Donald Trump about Muslim Americans and people who are perceived to be from a Muslim background, I think the spread of Islamophobia from our national leaders sends the wrong message.”
He added: “I hope this episode shows people that words can be hurtful and that discriminating based on how someone looks shouldn’t just be ignored. People should be educated on different faiths and backgrounds so that diversity is celebrated. America is, after all, a nation of immigrants. And if we work together instead of against each other, we’ll accomplish so much more.”
Hoboken’s mayor, Dawn Zimmer, and Rep. Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-N.J.), offered their support for Bhalla. “At the end of the day, I don’t hold any malice toward this person. I forgive him for what he said and hope he will educate himself about how his comments can be hurtful and divisive,” he said.
Bhalla, an attorney and founding member of the national Sikh Bar Association, garnered the national spotlight after his leadership during a successful challenge against the New York police department for its restrictions against a Sikh officer’s religious practices. Additionally, he successfully challenged the search policy of the Federal Bureau of Prisons after he was ordered to remove his turban before visiting a client.
“Unfortunately, ignorance and racism are alive and well, even in Hudson County,” Bhalla said on his Facebook page. “I am not deterred but more determined to serve my community in Hoboken – as a proud American and a proud Sikh!”