CAIRO - Egypt's Salafi presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail claimed a moral victory on Wednesday when a court ruled that authorities must provide proof that his late mother did not hold dual nationality, which would prevent him running.

Thousands of supporters of Abu Ismail chanted "Egyptian, Egyptian" as they shot fireworks skywards, many crying in joy and praying. They had rallied outside and inside the court that had been in session since the morning, seeking to flock around the sheikh, who they say is the victim of a smear campaign.

He has emerged as one of the frontrunners for the first presidential vote since the fall of Hosni Mubarak, but the electoral commission said it had received notification from American authorities that his late mother had a US passport, a status that would likely disqualify him from the race.

Abu Ismail, an ultra-conservative who preaches a strict interpretation of Islam, filed the case against the Interior Ministry requesting that it hand over documents to show she held no dual nationality. The court ruled in his favor.

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