Egyptian Islamist Lawyer Muntassir Al-Zayyat: All the Political Forces in Egypt Celebrated Sadat's Assassination
Egyptian Islamist lawyer Muntassir Al-Zayyat said that "all the political forces in Egypt – left, pan-Arabs, and Nasserists – applauded Sadat's assassination," and so did the people on the street, whom we saw "handing out candy and chocolate, to celebrate the killing of Sadat." Speaking on the U.K.-based Al-Araby TV channel on June 20, Al-Zayyet said that the religious justification for his killing was his refraining from implementing Islamic law, his reconciling with the Zionists, his alliance with infidels, and his hostility to the Islamists and to Islam. "He said that the hijab is like a tent and called to separate religion from politics. All these reasons led our generation to assassinate Anwar Sadat," said Al-Zayyat.
Muntassir Al-Zayyat: "All the political forces in Egypt were waiting for the moment that Sadat would be killed: The left, the pan-Arabs, the Nasserists – all of them applauded the assassination. After we were sure that Sadat had been killed, Rifa'i Ahmad Taha and I walked down the main street of Aswan, and saw the regular people handing out candy and chocolate, to celebrate the killing of Sadat."
Interviewer: "You are talking about the popular support, but you've said that the political elites – the left, the right, and the pan-Arabs – had all been in favor of the idea of assassination. Perhaps you meant that they all wanted Sadat's political life to end, so that his actions would come to an end... But to claim that they supported his actual killing is a serious charge."
Muntassir Al-Zayyat: "They all supported it. Some political forces have even claimed responsibility for the assassination.
"The legal defense team for Sadat's killers included the Egyptian elite. They were all leaders of the Egyptian political parties. Ahmad Al-Khawaga, president of the Egyptian Lawyers Association, headed the defense team. Mr. Ragai Attia, a top figure in the current regime, was defending Khalid Al-Islambouli. Ahmad Nasser of the Wafd Party... Everybody, from right to left, defended the killers of Sadat and described them as heroes."
Interviewer: "This was because he signed the peace accord with Israel?"
Muntassir Al-Zayyat: "Yes, of course. One of the main reasons for [the assassination] was the normalization of ties with Israel and the signing of the peace accord. I am talking about the atmosphere prevalent back in the day. Yes, we all rejoiced, we all cheered, we all applauded, and we were all happy."
Interviewer: "What is the religious justification for his killing, although he was not an infidel?"
Muntassir Al-Zayyat: "His refraining from implementing Islamic law."
Interviewer: "Does this call for assassination?"
Muntassir Al-Zayyat: "I am not talking about..."
Interviewer: "I know, I just want to understand."
Muntassir Al-Zayyat: "I am just describing the atmosphere that was prevalent back then. Anwar Sadat reconciled with the Jews, or the Israelis, or the Zionists."
Interviewer: "Another possible reason is the fact that he allied himself with infidels."
Muntassir Al-Zayyat: "Indeed, he allied himself with the United States of America. In addition, he was hostile to the Islamists and to Islam, and he referred to the hijab as 'a tent'... This is what we, as young men, believed back then. He said that the hijab is like a tent and called to separate religion from politics. All these reasons led our generation to assassinate Anwar Sadat."
Interviewer: "Are you saying the violence of Al-Jama'a Al-Islamiyya was merely a reaction to the way the group was treated by the authorities?"
Muntassir Al-Zayyat: "Yes, but that's not all. Al-Jama'a Al-Islamiyya was lured into using violence, so that this could be used as a pretext to destroy the group."