Abu-Ismail says his mother is a green card holder (Photo: Abu-Ismail's presidential campaign)
Egypt presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail has reiterated that his late mother did not hold US citizenship. She did, however, acquire a green card – permanent resident status – because she visited his US-based sister who holds US nationality.
Allegations over the nationality of Abu-Ismail's mother, who passed away in her 60s, surfaced last week before he handed in his mandatory recommendations to the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) and became an official presidential candidate.
He strenuously denied the reports and elaborated further after new rumours started to circulate that his mother had a US passport.
According to Egyptian law, candidates for the presidency must be solely Egyptian with both parents holding only Egyptian citizenship.
In a YouTube video and a press release, Abu-Ismail said, "My mother, may God have mercy on her, was Egyptian, so were her parents and grandparents. She was born and bred in Egypt.
"My sister married an Egyptian doctor [who lives in the US] and got American nationality as a result. My mother used to periodically visit her and thus became a green card holder," he explained.
He said he had called on the SPEC to verify his claims with the Egyptian authorities.
"I met Farouk Sultan, head of the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission. I told him that I wanted to leave no doubt that the rumour was false, so I asked him to give me a letter to hand to the passport authority so it could confirm what I have said, but he refused.
"I asked him to send a representative [of the SPEC] to check the story himself with the passport authority, but again he refused … Farouk was very polite but told me that he couldn't do what I asked.
"He said that he would send a letter to the passport authority and wait for its reply, which meant the question would be resolved only two days before the end of the formal registration process for presidential candidates on 8 April.
"I also asked the passport authority to state [in an official document] the nationality of my mother, but again I was turned down.
"Now I am preparing to file a lawsuit with the State Council because the whole problem might be a result of names that bear a resemblance to mine or false journalistic reports.
"It was said that my mother acquired US nationality three months before her death and that I know nothing about it.
"I feel there is a malicious plot to eliminate me from the presidential race."
With a relatively brief history in electoral politics, a respectable career as a lawyer, a reputable status as an influential Islamic preacher, and known for his sharp political rhetoric, Abu-Ismail has emerged as one of the frontrunners in Egypt’s first post-Mubarak presidential contest.
He announced his decision to run for the presidency in May 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.