Egypt presidential candidate claims moral victory

Court demands authorities give Salafi Abu Ismail documents; legal expert says ruling does not answer citizenship question.

Egyptian Salafist Hazem Salah Abu Ismail 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany )
Egyptian Salafist Hazem Salah Abu Ismail 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany )
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.
"The court ruled that the Interior Ministry .. hand over a certificate to Hazem Salah Abu Ismail to prove that his mother had no other nationality besides her Egyptian nationality," Judge Abdel Salam al-Nagger said, of the ruling in his favor.
Abu Ismail's lawyer said the ruling, which would appear to confirm she was Egyptian, was a "historic victory".
But its does not rule out the possibility that other authorities besides the Interior Ministry - especially US authorities - could have evidence that his mother held US citizenship, meaning the speculation will linger.
"The ruling on the nationality of Abu Ismail's mother has brought matters back to point zero and did not answer the question of whether she had a foreign nationality," legal expert and rights activist Hafez Abu Saeda said on Twitter.
Under Egypt's election rules, both a candidate's parents must be Egyptian and with no dual citizenship