By Heba Hesham
CAIRO: The court was yet to rule late Wednesday in the case of the Salafi presidential candidate’s mother’s citizenship, a verdict that will either disqualify him or allow him to continue with his bid for Egypt’s top post.
Ultraconservative Islamist hopeful Hazem Salah Abu Ismail filed a lawsuit to oblige the interior ministry to provide documents proving his mother does not hold the US citizenship, something that if proven could eliminate him from the presidential race.
“Our only demand is to cancel the negative decision of the refusal of the interior ministry to give [Abu Ismail] a certificate that his mother doesn’t hold dual citizenship,” said Gaber Nassar, Abu Ismail’s lawyer.
A citizen should only be denied from practicing his political rights if there are verified document to prove the justification, the lawyer added.
The session was adjourned repeatedly during the day as supporters of the Salafi candidate filled the court room and also demonstrated outside the State Council. It was the second hearing; the first was on Tuesday.
The legal representative of the state told the court on Wednesday that his statements the day before were misunderstood and requested the postponement of the session for a few hours to comment on Abu Ismail’s lawyer’s statement.
The legal representative of the state denied in Tuesday’s session that the Ministers of Interior or Foreign Affairs had issued any decision regarding the citizenship of Abu Ismail’s mother, referring to the statement issued by the Presidential Election Committee last week.
“The role of the interior ministry was only to inform the PEC that the claimant’s mother used a travel document and not a passport to enter and depart Egypt,” the government representative said.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs only transferred the documents provided by the US government to the PEC.”
Therefore, he added, the dispute is between Abu Ismail and the US government.
To clarify, the state representative explained on Wednesday that while the Ministry of Interior didn’t produce an American passport for the candidate’s mother, it has proof through travel procedures that she had an American citizenship.
“We only trust the documents of the Egyptian interior ministry,” said presidential candidate and prominent lawyer Khaled Aly, dismissing documents presented by the American government.
Aly, along with other lawyers including those affiliated to other candidates, has joined Abu Ismail’s defense team in solidarity.
“As long as the interior ministry didn’t issue or provide a permission for his mother to get the US citizenship and the Cabinet didn’t take away her Egyptian citizenship — if she was proven to have acquired the US citizenship without notifying the government [as stipulated by the law] — this means that she didn’t acquire a second nationality,” notorious lawyer and presidential hopeful Mortada Mansour told the court.
“Whoever says she is not Egyptian or has another nationality should provide the evidence,” he added.
The PEC announced Thursday that it received a report from the Immigration and Nationality Authority stating that the deceased mother of Abu Ismail carried an American passport.
The statement added in its report to the PEC that Abu Ismail’s mother has used the passport three times to travel to and from Egypt in 2008 and 2009.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs has also informed the committee that its American counterpart confirmed that the candidate’s mother held the US citizenship, the PEC said.
The law stipulates that presidential candidates provide documents to prove that they are born to Egyptian parents, do not hold another nationality and are not married to a non-Egyptian.