As in her husband's lifetime, Jihan Sadat, widow of the slain Egyptian president, was the composed picture of strength in an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters shown last night on "20/20."
In a predictable yet intriguing interview, Sadat revealed in some detail her thoughts on the day of the grisly assassination and in the aftermath. Perhaps more than anything, the interview was an opportunity to see Jihan Sadat on television close up after several months of being largely out of Western view. She appears to have changed little from the woman who told interviewers in Washington last year how her husband's death was a risk that they accepted in the light of his controversial leadership.
That fatalism came out even more last night. Sadat talked of begging her husband to wear a bulletproof vest and how he refused more stringent security measures.
When Walters noted the irony that the assassination occurred in front of people who seemed to be soldiers, Sadat agreed, but said, "I think if we could . . . have asked Anwar Sadat to choose his death, he wouldn't have chosen much better than this. You know, in his military suit . . . You know, it is altogether as if he chose it. This is something which also makes me feel, in a way, a little bit satisfied. Because Anwar Sadat is not the kind to . . . to die in bed."
Sadat never cried in the interview although, as Walters asked her what she misses about her husband, Sadat tilted her head skyward -- as she did periodically throughout the interview -- a tear under her right eye, and said, "His charisma, you know, his way of talking, his loud voice."
The most poignant moment came when Sadat explained how she knew her husband was dead before the doctors came to tell her. She talked of sitting in the hospital, of waiting and how nobody came. "If there was anything, any one of the doctors would have come to say, 'There is hope' or 'There is something,' but no one said anything. Then I said to our president, Mubarak, 'Just go and look after Egypt.' . . . I took my children, and it was over." The interview ends there, freezing a painfully sad expression on Sadat's face.
Walters was unusually low-key in this interview, injecting little more than short or carefully worded questions. Anything more would have been intrusive.