CAIRO, April 5 (UPI) -- Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, the Salafist candidate running for president of Egypt, says an accusation his mother was an American citizen is part of a "conspiracy."
The ultra-conservative lawyer and television preacher said his mother never held a U.S. passport or dual citizenship -- which would make him ineligible to run for leader of the country -- ABC News reported Thursday.
"I have not seen worse days. There is a conspiracy against me by the Salafis who refuse to support me and their supporters," Abu Ismail told Al Arabiya television. "What you hear in the media is one thing and what happens behind closed doors is something else."
Abu Ismail acknowledged his mother had a U.S. Social Security number and a green card so she could be near his sister, who lives in the United States, ABC News said.
"I am not that impulsive to risk my reputation in the society that trusts and supported my platform," Abu Ismail told Al Arabiya. "It was my increasing popularity that led some people to try to destroy me.
"If presidential elections are not fair or their results are manipulated, I will go to international courts if the Egyptian judiciary will not do me justice," he said. "The era of subjugation is over."
The first round of elections to replace the deposed Hosni Mubarak is scheduled for May 23-24, with a runoff, if needed, in June.
Egypt has been ruled by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces since Mubarak's February 2011 overthrow.