Arabic: أنور السادات
Dec. 25, 1918 – Oct.6, 1981
President of Egypt, 1970-1981
Anwar Sadat became Egypt’s third president when Gamal Abdel Nasser died in 1970. Born to a peasant family, Sadat had risen in the military ranks, participated in the 1952 Revolution (sometimes termed a coup d’état), and become Nasser’s vice-president.
Rather than follow Nasser’s vision, Sadat initiated a multi-party political system in Egypt, which inspired the creation of the National Democratic Party.
On October 6, 1973 Sadat launched the Yom Kippur War, more commonly known in Egypt as the October War. Egypt managed to regain the Sinai Peninsula, which had been captured by Israel six years earlier. Sadat became a hero after the war and October 6 is still a national holiday.
Egypt’s ability to successfully attack Israel shocked the world. Israel, perhaps recognizing Egypt as a formidable foe, agreed to come to the negotiation table and peace talks began in 1975.
On November 19, 1977, Sadat became the first Arab leader to officially visit Israel. He met with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and spoke about his vision to a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
On March 26, 1979 Sadat and Begin signed the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty in Washington, D.C., with the facilitation of U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Sadat and Begin were later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The treaty was celebrated by Egyptians, but Sadat and Egypt became widely unpopular across the Arab world for being the first Arab country to officially recognize Israel. After Gamal Abdel Nasser’s efforts to realize Pan-Arab unity, the Arab world felt Sadat had betrayed them for the sake of Egypt’s own gain.
Sadat also faced internal issues. There was a series of bread riots in January 1977 protesting price controls on necessities, and a number of nightclubs on the famous Haram Street were burnt down by Islamists.
The Islamists were enraged by the Peace Treaty with Israel and began formulating a plan of violent conspiracy acts. In September 1981 Sadat rounded up 1,500 Islamists, thinkers, and activists of all ideological fields, an attempt to send a strong message.
On October 6, 1981 Sadat was assassinated by members of an Islamist cell in the military during the annual victory parade held to commemorate Egypt’s reclaiming if the Suez Canal.