Vote on draft Constitution Saturday.
By NBC News staff and wire reports.
Updated at 7 p.m. ET: CAIRO — President Mohamed Morsi on Thursday invited political groups and legal figures to meet for a national dialogue on solutions to Egypt’s political crisis after clashes between his supporters and his foes left seven dead and hundreds wounded.
Morsi did not, however, rescind decrees granting him wide powers that his opponents had demanded, and his overtures on talks were immediately rejected by opposition leaders.
The main office of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood was set ablaze late Thursday, the group’s political party said, and another office used by the party was torched in a suburb south of the city, the state news agency reported.
In a nationally televised address to the nation, Morsi said he would bring together a number of groups at a Saturday meeting at the presidential palace.
“Such painful events happened because of political differences that should be resolved through dialogue,” the Islamist president said after two days of violence during protests.
The discussions would center on a political roadmap after a referendum on a new constitution, Reuters reported. Morsi said they would discuss the fate of the upper house of parliament after the lower house was dissolved in June, the election law and other issues. He said plans for the referendum on December 15 were on track.
Mohamed Morsi left the palace in the northern Cairo district of Heliopolis on Tuesday evening as tens of thousands of demonstrators surged around it, clashing briefly with police.
A presidential source said Morsi was back at work in the palace on Wednesday, even though up to 200 demonstrators had camped out near one entrance overnight.
Traffic was flowing normally in the area and riot police had been withdrawn, a witness said.
The rest of the Egyptian capital was calm, despite the political furore over Morsi’s November 22 decree handing himself wide powers and shielding his decisions from judicial oversight.
Egyptian police fired tear gas at opposition protesters demonstrating on Tuesday evening against Morsi’s drive to hold a snap referendum on the draft constitution.
Live television footage showed that some protesters broke through police lines and got too close to the presidential palace late on Tuesday night.
Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo said: “We saw thousand of people surrounding the palace on all four corners, outnumbering the police and getting close to the presidential walls.”
Longworth House Office Building moments after disrobing.
The activists were protesting proposed budget cuts to AIDS funding that could be included in the looming fiscal cliff. They painted their bodies with slogans, such as ”AIDS cuts kill” and “Fund PEPFAR.”
Three were arrested, including two organizers for Queerocracy, according to NBC New
Obviously, convicted criminals need to be let go to clear room for the real criminals – protesters who dare to hide behind the Constitution while claiming First Amendment rights. Given the “unprecedented” moves the police force is using, it appears they expect a large turnout from not only conservatives, but people expressing political dissent.
Colonel Jim Previtera, the man in charge of next week’s Orient Road Jail activities, excitedly showed a reporter the expected operations while giving a tour of the prison. “The inmates will be unloaded, they will be searched and walked through a metal detector which has been added for this event,” Previtera said. “We will take their fingerprints and photographs. We’ll also collect property. There are three scenarios: inmates will either get bonded out, go before a judge who will be stationed at Falkenberg Road Jail with a video feed into Orient Road Jail, or they’ll be released.”
Col. Previtera noted that Tampa has spent more than two years putting this plan in place. Gosh, with so much preparedness for the worst circumstances, you don’t suppose the police are going to feel obligated to use the facilities in force, do you?
“There will be arrests,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee. “The question is how many. We are prepared to handle any number of RNC-related arrests.” Col. Previtera, however, was more specific, boasting that Orient Road Jail can handle 1,000 arrests.