Gilbert and Sullivan, meet Hajj Abd Al-Nabi, the official executioner of Egypt.
He comes to us courtesy of our friends at MEMRI—the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Hajj Abd Al-Nabi: "I am the executioner of the Arab Republic of Egypt. I hold the rank of chief warrant officer in the police and the prison authority. I am Egypt's executioner, responsible for carrying out the death penalty….
"I love people, and people love me, but when I am doing my job, I am carrying out the law of Allah. When it comes to carrying out 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….
"I have placed [the noose] around some 800 heads—tough people, big people, young people….All the despicable crimes—killing, adultery, premeditated murder, and so on….I carry out all the death sentences.
"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….
"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. I would get hold of any animal-- even dogs. I would strangle these animals and throw them into the water—even dogs."
Interviewer: "That was a long time ago…."
Hajj Abd Al-Nabi: "Yes, when I was 13 or 14 years old. Strangulation was my hobby. When I applied for the job and did well on the tests—proving that I could take the psychological pressure and so on—they said: 'Congratulations. Now, grow a moustache.
"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.
"My parents were hard on me. They would say: 'This will get you to hell!' I would say to them: 'The cat bit me, the cat bit some kid, the dog bit a boy in the leg, and the leg got infected.' I became the enemy of all things harmful to Mankind."
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…."