Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost want to Criminalize Free Speech

Ohio AG Dave Yost wants to criminalize free speech. Last week, he issued a 'legal fatwa' where he threatened to invoke a 1953 law better known as 'anti-KKK' against 41 brave OSU students and faculty who were arrested last April 25.

Reason? The protesters were calling for their university to divest from Israel and an end to the Israeli genocide and starvation in Gaza. Simply put, he will charge OSU students & faculties fourth-degree felony charges under his silly unheard-of law.

Cracking down on OSU students for protesting against genocide after 14,500+ slaughtered Palestinian children and billions in US aid, weapons, and political cover, makes AG Yost as complicit.

Contrary to AG Yost's 'Yo Yost' TV campaign commercial in which he promised to protect Ohioan's religious freedom, AG Yost ordered his troops to attack students while they were praying and violate Muslim students' religious rights as they were exercising their First Amendments rights at OSU campus. Furthermore, students and faculties who were arrested were subjected to illegal, inhumane, and degrading treatments such as:

  1. They had to wait 12 hours to use the restroom.
  2. Women were subjected to strip searches
  3. Muslim women were forced to remove their hijabs for
  4. Students were denied the right to pray.
  5. Muslim prisoners were denied halal food.

As Ohio's top law enforcement officer, AG Yost should know that there are rules in the book in Ohio where you cannot ask or order a Muslim woman to remove her hijab even for a mugshot or for a driver's license and removing a Muslim woman's hijab is akin to a non-Muslim removing the shirt of your wife or daughter. Basically, you are robbing the woman of her dignity, plain and simple.

His State Highway Patrol's behavior during the arrest reflects poorly on their training and sensitivity to ethnic and religious diversity. As an attorney general, it is crucial to uphold the rights and dignity of all citizens, regardless of their beliefs or backgrounds.

I urge AG Yost to reconsider his approach in the future and ensure that the rights of protesters, including their freedom of expression and religious practices, are respected and protected. AG Yost should work together with the students and the local Muslim and Arab American communities to create a more just and compassionate Ohio by dropping all the charges against the students and promising that he will not criminalize free speech.

Mahmoud El-Yousseph is a Palestinian freelance writer and retired USAF veteran who lives in Westerville, Ohio. He could be reached at: [email protected]

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