Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

U.S. Ties Snag Egyptian Presidential Candidate ; Sheik's Mother Appeared to Have U.S. Citizenship, Disqualifying His Bid

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

U.S. Ties Snag Egyptian Presidential Candidate ; Sheik's Mother Appeared to Have U.S. Citizenship, Disqualifying His Bid

Article excerpt

Sheik Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, an ultraconservative Islamist at the front of Egypt's presidential race, may not be able to run because his mother became an American citizen before she died.

An ultraconservative Islamist whose denunciations of U.S. power have helped propel him to the front of Egypt's presidential race appears to have been tripped up by his own U.S. connections.

The mother of the candidate, Sheik Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, became a U.S. citizen before she died, according to California public records and a Los Angeles voter registration Web site. That status would disqualify Mr. Abu Ismail from running for president under Egyptian law. His exit would again scramble the race to become Egypt's first president since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.

Mr. Abu Ismail said his mother had obtained a green card granting her legal permanent residency but not citizenship, and the incongruous image of an anti-American Islamist seemingly unaware of the details of his mother's life in California is delighting Egyptian liberals. If Mr. Abu Ismail is forced to leave the race, U.S. diplomats apprehensive about the possible repercussions of his victory may also be pleased. But in practical political terms, his departure may help unite a fractured Islamist vote.

A spokesman for Mr. Abu Ismail's campaign said it had sent a delegation to the United States to investigate. Presented with a report from a database of public records that included an address in Santa Monica, California, for his mother, Nawal Abel Aziz Nour, as well as her name on a Los Angeles voter registration list, the campaign spokesman, Mohamed Fahim Abdel Ghaffar, suggested that it could be a forgery.

Interior Ministry officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss pending investigations, said separately on Wednesday that they had obtained copies of what they described as U.S. "travel documents" of Ms. Aziz Nour that indicated she had been a U.S. citizen before her death, but the exact nature of the documents could not be confirmed. A search of the Web indicated that Ms. Aziz Nour died within the past few years.

On Thursday, Bloomberg News reported that the campaign would call for a huge march on Friday in support of Mr. …

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