In a candid and at times bizarre interview, a man described as Egypt’s “official executioner” -- Hajj Abd Al-Nabi -- expresses his great love for his job for which he prepared years earlier as a teenager by strangling cats and dogs.
A veteran of 800 executions by hanging for crimes including adultery and murder, Nabi says, “In all honesty, I love my work. I just love it! I never say ‘no’ when they need me at work. This is my work and my livelihood.”
The Middle East Media Research Institute translated the interview in which the executioner describes in detail how as a child he would strangle little animals and even his playmates.
“When I was young – about 13 or 14 years old – the dry Ismailiya Canal in Shubra Al-Kheima still had water in it. My hobby was to catch a cat, to place a rope around its neck, to strangle it, and throw it into the water,” he said.
“I would get hold of any animal – even dogs. I would strangle these animals and throw them into the water – even dogs,” he added, explaining this “hobby” prepared him well for his future occupation.
“Strangulation was my hobby,” he said. “When I applied for the job and did well on the tests – proving that I could take the psychological pressure.”
When he would occasionally wrap his hands around his friends’ necks, he would quickly realize they were just children and let go.
From MEMRI’s translation:
Interviewer: So you were violent as a boy...
Hajj Abd Al-Nabi: I was a little Satan...
Interviewer: Did you strangle many kids you were playing with?
Hajj Abd Al-Nabi: Whenever I would place my hands around a kid's neck, I would go soft when I remembered that it was a child, not an animal.
Interviewer: So you had a disposition toward this job from a young age...
Hajj Abd Al-Nabi: It's a gift.
Interviewer: Strangling is a gift?
Hajj Abd Al-Nabi: A great gift. I love my job very much, and I can't give it up. Even when I retire, I will report for duty in emergencies. I will leave this job only when I am dead.
“My parents were hard on me,” he said. “They would say: ‘This will get you to hell!’”
But Nabi believes he is doing the work of Allah. “I love people, and people love me, but when I am doing my job, I am carrying out the law of Allah,” he said.
Today as a parent he describes himself as tough at work but calm at home. “When it comes to carrying out our my job, I am tough. The murderer has done an abominable thing, and I cannot be soft with him. If I were soft towards this criminal, I wouldn't be able to execute him, but when I'm at home, with my kids, I am as calm as can be.”
Speaking emotionally and forcefully with a raised voice and gesticulating hands, Nabi says only a certain kind of person can successfully take on the job of executioner.
“The truth is that my heart is dead, because executing comes from the heart, not the moustache. Only if you have a heart of stone can you be content in this line of work,” he said.
Watch excerpts translated by MEMRI here: