March 26th, 2009
10:08 AM ET

30 years later, Sadat’s widow hopes for peace

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Thirty years ago, on March 26, 1979, three couples sat down for a celebratory lunch in the White House.

President Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and his wife Aliza, and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and his wife Jehan, talked privately before greeting the hundreds of people who witnessed the signing of the historic peace treaty between Egypt and Israel that day.

Jehan Sadat remembers crying with joy that day at seeing Israelis and Egyptians putting aside their differences and talking simply as people. Sadat and Begin shared the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize for the treaty they negotiated under the auspices of President Carter.

Her happiness was shattered October 6, 1981, when Anwar Sadat was gunned down while reviewing a military parade.

Jehan and Anwar Sadat had been married for 32 years. The daughter of a British teacher and an Egyptian government official, she met the former Army officer at her cousin's house, not long after he had been released from prison for opposing Britain's occupation of Egypt. She was 15 and he was almost 30, but they fell in love and married soon after.

In her new book, "My Hope for Peace," Jehan Sadat says she was crushed by her husband's death and at first almost immobilized. But she eventually decided to continue her work outside the home.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Israel • Middle East
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