Young supporters carrying posters of Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, 6 April, 2012 (Photo: Ahram Online)
Thousands of protestors have descended on Tahrir Square Friday to protest what they consider to be a fierce political and media campaign against Islamist Salafist presidential candidate, Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail, which aims at excluding him from Egypt's first post-revolution presidential elections.
Salafist supporters of the embattled Abu-Ismail chanted: Hazem is honest, he is not a liar," "The people want Hazem Abu-Ismail," and "Allegations or no allegations, we will win the cause."
Allegations that Abu-Ismail's late mother held a US citizenship surfaced last week after he handed in his mandatory recommendations to the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) and became an official presidential candidate.
The accusations, which flooded social media networks in the last few days, threaten to end Abu-Ismail's presidential bid as Egyptian electoral rules exclude anyone who, or either of their parent, hold another (dual) nationality from running for Egypt's top post.
The allegations lead the Salafist Front, one of Egypt's leading Salafist groups, to announce that it will rally in Tahrir Square to support Abu-Ismail.
Abu-Ismail initially vehemently denied the allegations but has backtracked in more recent days.
To ensure no contentions ruin his chances for running, Abu Ismail's took legal action last week against the interior minister, demanding that the ministry issue a certificate stating that it never allowed his mother to apply for a foreign nationality in the first place, thus nullifying any such acquisition.
Protestors are also carrying banners and posters supporting their candidate and built a podium in the square across from the Tahrir Mogamaa administration building.
Some protestors have also distributed written biographies of Abu Ismail, which include praise-words for the Salafist leader by prominent figures, such as Islamist presidential candidate Mohamed Selim El-Awa, liberal presidential hopeful Ayman Nour, and ultraconservative Imam Sheik Abu Ishaq El-Huweini.
On the other hand, street vendors continued to sell foods and drink for protestors, as they have always done since the January 25, 2011 revolution days.
With a relatively brief history in electoral politics, a respectable career as a lawyer, a reputable status as a influential Islamic preacher, and known for his sharp political rhetoric, Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail has emerged as one of the frontrunners in Egypt’s first post-Mubarak presidential contest.
Abu-Ismail is the son of late high-profile Islamist figure Salah Abu-Ismail, who was a prominent Al-Azhar scholar, a long-standing member of parliament, and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
He announced his decision to run for the presidency in May of 2011.
Presidential elections will take place on 23 and 24 May, and the president will be named on 21 June after a runoff voting round on 16 and 17 June.
The deadline for submitting the 30,000 required recommendations forms for each presidential candidate to qualify as an official candidate is 8 April.
SPEC has not ruled on Abu-Ismail eligibility to run for president yet.