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This Sikh American Overcame Hate To Become New Jersey’s First Sikh Mayor

“There is no conflict in this country between being a Sikh and being a successful American.”

Ravi Bhalla is no stranger to religious discrimination. Growing up in New Jersey, the Sikh American politician told HuffPost he regularly faced bullying and harassment at public school because of his religion and the turban he wears as a sign of devotion to his faith.

Years later, Bhalla is celebrating a remarkable milestone: He’s been elected as his home state’s first Sikh American mayor.

Bhalla won Hoboken’s mayoral race last Tuesday, edging out a pool of five other candidates. The city councilman claimed victory despite being targeted by a racist flyer campaign during the race which falsely linked him to terrorism. 

Asked what he would tell his younger self, Bhalla told HuffPost: “I would say that there is no conflict in this country between being a Sikh and being a successful American.”

“I think it’s important for Sikh children to realize that they should have pride in their faith and know that in this country, the sky is the limit,” Bhalla said. “I hope as mayor, I can present a positive image of Sikh to the general public and I hope that it will make it easier for young kids in school.”