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Sunday, July 06, 2008

'Assassination of a Pharaoh'

A new Iranian documentary film called 'Assassination of a Pharaoh' glorifies the assassins of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and calls him a traitor for - surprise - signing a peace treaty with Israel. The Sadat family is outraged.
Recently screened on the sidelines of a festival organized by the Committee for Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Movement in Iran, the film has generated considerable heat amongst Egyptian scholars and filmmakers. Incensed, Sadat's family has also vocally rejected the film and is reportedly considering a lawsuit against the Iranian producers.

According to a report by Egyptian daily 'Al-Masri Al-Youm' on Sunday, the film asserts the motive behind Sadat's assassination in 1981 was his 'traitorous' decision to forge a peace agreement with Israel. (In the broader sense, radical Islamist movements in Egypt viewed Sadat as a collaborator with the decadent West – A/N.)

The film, broadcast "in honor of the martyrs of the Islamic renaissance," deals with "the revolutionary assassination of the treacherous Egyptian president at the hands of the martyr Khaled Islambouli," the paper said.

Islamic militant Islambouli was one of the soldiers who shot Sadat dead at a military parade in Cairo on October 6, 1981. He was hanged for the killing in 1982 and subsequently had a Tehran road named after him.

The film goes on to present an hour's worth of testimonies given by “experts, politicians and security officials," who discuss the assassination.
Not that the assassins and their deeds deserve the lionizing that the Iranians are bestowing on them, but it is probably historically correct that Sadat's signing of a peace treaty with Israel was the motivation behind his assassination. Still, Sadat's family has accused the filmmakers of slander and of tarnishing Sadat's image. The Egyptians are smart enough to realize that Sadat did what was best for them thirty years ahead of anyone else in the Arab world.
Chairman of Egypt's Cinema Industry Chamber, Mamdouh El-Leithy, also commented on the production: “This film has nothing but lies. The Iranians should go back and reexamine it, because Sadat was a genuine hero. Without him we would have never gotten Sinai back. What he did with Israel is now being done with Syria, with Palestine and with other countries that opposed his decision."
The Iranians cut relations with Egypt in 1980 in response to the treaty, but now in an effort to renew relations, they have renamed the street that was named after Islambouli "Palestinian Intifadeh Street."

The most curious reaction to the film comes from 'Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya,' the Islamist movement to which Islambouli belonged.
A senior member of the movement, which was outlawed following the assassination, told the Egyptian daily that Sadat "was a great man who was responsible for the October Victory (the Yom Kippur War).

"Khaled Islambouli, Sadat's killer, was a good young man who thought he was doing a good thing. However, the Al-Jamaa now believes that if it were possible to turn back time, it would never have happened. Sadat was the only president who gave the Islamic movements free range, but the movement did not make good use of that freedom."
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

The shame in this of course is that Israel made the treaty with Sadat himself and not with his country. Most Egyptians did not support the treaty. Had Sadat lived, its outcome might have been different than the 'cold peace' we have with Egypt today.


At 10:29 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I think the Sadat experience taught Israel all the wrong lessons. If Israel is going to ever have peace with the Arabs, it has to be on a people to people level. Its not going to happen through signing paper agreements with the leaders and not peace agreements with the country. That's why talks with the Palestinians are going nowhere. Peace has to be a grassroots movement and the fact such a phenomenon doesn't exist in the Arab World speaks volumes about the prospects for peace. Ditto with Iran.


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