CAIRO - Salafist politician Hazem Abu Ismail will probably be disqualified from his bid for Egypt’s presidency because his late mother was a US citizen, the electoral commission said on Saturday. Under the country’s electoral law, all candidates for the presidency, their parents wives must have only Egyptian citizenship. A commission statement said the foreign ministry had confirmed that his mother, Nawal Abdel Aziz Nur, obtained US citizenship in Oct 2006. Commission chief Hatem said that the agency had received info according to which his mother had “used a US passport for travel to and from Egypt” before her death.

Abu Ismail advocates a strict interpretation of Islam similar to the one practised in Saudi Arabia and has become a familiar sight in Cairo, with his posters adorning many cars and micro buses.

On Friday, thousands of people rallied in central Cairo in support of his candidacy.

“The people want Hazem Abu Ismail! No to manipulation!” the demonstrators shouted after making their way through central Cairo to Tahrir Square, epicentre of last year’s revolt which toppled president Hosni Mubarak.

The protesters, including women in full Islamic veil, carried portraits of Abu Ismail and waved their fists, angrily condemning any attempt to disqualify their candidate.

Abu Ismail launched his candidacy on March 30 with a large motorcade that took him to electoral commission headquarters in Cairo.

Files will be examined on April 12-13 and any candidate not meeting the requirements informed, the commission said. Those rejected would then have 48 hours to appeal before the final list of candidates is announced on April 26.

Abu Ismail would compete with more moderate Islamist candidates such as senior Muslim Brotherhood figure Khairat El-Shater and former regime figures such as ex-foreign minister Amr Mussa.

Islamists have made big strides since Mubarak’s ouster, winning majorities in elections to both houses of parliament.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party won the most seats in parliamentary elections earlier this year, but the Salafists captured nearly a quarter themselves.