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Egypt's Anwar Sadat Assassinated

By Patrick Mondout

On October 6, 1981, President Anwar al-Sadat was assassinated during an annual military parade celebrating the "successful" campaigns during the 1973 Egypt-Israeli war. He was saluting the troops when a number of them ran from one of the vehicles in the parade and began firing machine guns and throwing grenades into the reviewing stand (see image on right).

Twenty others, including four American diplomats, were injured. Among those in the reviewing stand but not among the injured were future U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and future Egyptian president Hosni Mubarek. Mubarek was sitting just to the right of Sadat and miraculously escaped injury.

Sadat had come to be one of the world's most admired leaders in the wake of the Camp David accords negotiated with Israel's Menachim Begin under Jimmy Carter's auspices. However, the agreement was not universally popular in his own country and the Arab world in general - particularly among Islamic fundamentalists. In the months leading up to the assassination Sadat had lost much of his support in the West due to a crackdown on the fundamentalists.

The Egyptian government used the assassination as governments often do: as an excuse to further the crackdown on those who opposed the government. Among those accused in the plot were 11 university teachers and students. Before it was over Egypt had detained over 2,500 "participants" in what must have been the biggest murder conspiracy of all time.

Instability Feared

In the days after the assassination, the world worried about a potential leadership crisis and further instability in Egypt. Who would be Egypt's new leader?



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Assassination of Sadat; October 6, 1981, Cairo

Image courtesy of Al-Ahram Weekly

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