Muslim Mayor Just Banned the Word ‘Christmas?’

Hoboken mayor-elect Ravi Bhalla is Sikh, not Muslim, and he didn't ban the word "Christmas."

  • Published 19 December 2017
  • Updated 19 December 2017


The Muslim mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, banned the word "Christmas."



The disreputable web site Last Line of Defense jumped into the “war on Christmas” fray in December 2017 by publishing a false article claiming that a “Muslim mayor” in New Jersey had banned the word “Christmas”:

Earlier this year, Hoboken, New Jersey elected its first Muslim mayor. Due to take office in January, Ravi Bhalla received a Christmas gift from the current mayor, Dawn Zimmer: a chance to make one mayoral decree at the annual Christmas gala at the Patrick C. Farley Community Center on 5th and Brussels.

Bhalla and Zimmer shook hands, then Bhalla shocked the roughly 200 citizens in attendance with his decree that “the word ‘Christmas shall not be said at government functions.’”

This article is wrong on several fronts.

First, Ravi Bhalla is not currently the mayor of Hoboken, as the article’s headline implies. He was elected in 2017 and will take office in 2018, (as stated in the body of the article).

Second, Bhalla is Sikh, not Muslim. Because he wears a turban, he is frequently subjected to Islamophobic rumors. For instance, Reagan Was Right, a sister web site of Last Line of Defense, published an article in November 2017 falsely claiming that Bhalla had vowed to “glorify Allah” with every decision he made in office.

Not only did Bhalla not ban the word “Christmas,” he used it himself in a post on social media wishing Christmas-celebrators a merry one and complementing schoolchildren on their carol-singing. He also posted about lighting Hoboken’s menorah for Hanukkah:

The Last Line of Defense brands this sort of Islamophobic content as “satire.” The footer of the web site contains the Google definition for the word:

sat·ire ~ˈsaˌtī(ə)r
the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, OR ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
If you disagree with the definition of satire or have decided it is synonymous with “comedy,” you should really just move along.

The idea of a Muslim mayor’s banning the word Christmas is related to the claim that there is a “war” against the extremely popular holiday, which has never been banned in the United States.
Since 1994
A Word to Our Loyal Readers

Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.

  • David Mikkelson
  • Doreen Marchionni
  • David Emery
  • Bond Huberman
  • Jordan Liles
  • Alex Kasprak
  • Dan Evon
  • Dan MacGuill
  • Bethania Palma
  • Liz Donaldson
  • Vinny Green
  • Ryan Miller
  • Chris Reilly
  • Chad Ort
  • Elyssa Young

Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.

We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.

Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.

Team Snopes