Who Was Anwar Sadat? What Is He Famous For?
Anwar Sadat, in full Muhammad Anwar el-Sadat, born December 25, 1918, was an Egyptian army officer, politician, statesman who was president of Egypt from 1970 until his assassination in 1981. Sadat graduated from the Royal Military Academy in Cairo in 1938. During World War II he plotted to expel the British from Egypt with the help of the Germans.
The British arrested and imprisoned him in 1942, but he escaped two years later. In 1946 Sadat was arrested after being implicated in the assassination of pro-British minister Amīn ʿUthmān; he was imprisoned until his acquittal in 1948.
In 1950 he joined Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Free Officers organization; he participated in its armed coup against the Egyptian monarchy in 1952 and supported Nasser’s election to the presidency in 1956. Sadat held various high offices that led to his serving in the vice presidency (1964–66, 1969–70). He became acting president upon Nasser’s death, on September 28, 1970, and was elected president in a plebiscite on October 15.
In 1973 he launched a war against Israel which did much to restore Egyptian morale. In 1977 he visited Israel, the first Egyptian leader to do since 1948, and in 1978 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel. In 1979, he signed a peace treaty with Israel.
While Sadat’s popularity rose in the West, it fell dramatically in Egypt because of internal opposition to the treaty, his close links with the United States, a worsening economic crisis, and Sadat’s suppression of the resulting public dissent.
In September 1981 he ordered a massive police strike against his opponents, jailing more than 1,500 people from across the political spectrum. The following month Sadat was assassinated by Muslim extremists during the Armed Forces Day military parade commemorating the Yom Kippur War.