Anwar Sadat is shot, 1981

On October 6, 1981, Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat was assassinated in Cairo by Islamic extremists within the Egyptian army. They killed him for negotiating a peace agreement with Israel in 1979.

In the photo above, during an attack in the course of a miltary review, security guards and officials crouched to profect themselves as one assassin sprayed gunfire over the dais and another moved to the left. Sadat, already wounded and dying, was under the pile of chairs at center.

The photographer was Nakram Gadel Karim who remained in position on a television stand 30 feet away, and shot frame after frame of the confusion. Of the dozens of photographers present, many had their cameras focussed on the parade and the military machinery, Karim alone kept recording the events with cool precision throughout the frenzied 45-second attack. Karim was on assignment for the Cairo newspaper Al-Akhbar and for Gamma Liaison agency, which circulated his pictures internationally. They ran exclusively in Time Magazine in the U.S. (Time, Oct 19, 1981, ‘The Murder of a Man of Peace’.)

Sadat succeeded as thuggish Gamal Abdel Nasser as President in 1970 and in his eleven years as president, he managed to turn Egypt around, departing from some of the economic and political principles of Nasserism. He reinstituted the multi-party system, and despite launching the Yom Kippur War in 1973, managed to find an uneasy settlement of sorts with Israel. Sadat was the first Arab leader to officially visit Israel and to acknowledge the state of Israel. However, his peace agreement made him extremely unpopular in the Middle East and led to Egpyt being expelled from the Arab League.

Wikipedia details his assassination and aftermath.

The New York Times wrote about Karim’s photos:

“Questions about the efficacy, if not the loyalty, of the guards were first raised by publication on Wednesday of a series of extraordinary photographs in Al Akhbar, Egypt’s largest daily newspaper….

The Al Akhbar pictures show the assassins running toward the reviewing stand where Mr. Sadat was watching the parade, celebrating the anniversary of the 1973 war with Israel. They show the assassins crouching and firing at the stand and firing over the front of it into the dignitaries, most of whom are huddled under upturned chairs. Not until late in the sequence of pictures is there any sign of opposition from presidential aides.

The Government has maintained from the start that the guards were doing their duty but that they, like most of the dignitaries, had been momentarily distracted from the parading units by a dramatic flyover by Egyptian Air Force jets….

The Al Akhbar pictures – taken by Nakram Gadel Karim, a staff photographer for the paper – show that most of the President’s bodyguards were armed with handguns, which have little effect against rapid-fire, large-caliber automatic weapons such as those used by the assassins.

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0 thoughts on “Anwar Sadat is shot, 1981

  1. Can’t remember the photog but he managed to shoot close to a whole roll – this was pre-digital, He made a lot of money from this one photo. I feel if this shot had been photographed within the past 5 years, it would be a lot tighter.
    In those days, no self-respecting photog used zoom lenses. But these days, with almost everyone using the trinity zoom combination, the photog would have been able to crop more tightly in-camera.

  2. the photo is lightly reminiscent of Hitler assassination scene from Inglourious Basterds. what is it that gives the whole killing-people-in-the-large-indoors-but-open-space its cinematic appeal? maybe we’re just drawn to cage fighting as a species.

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