Compromise in Egypt?
According to al-Ahram, the Islamist regime's justice minister, Ahmed Mekki, has told the paper (for its Arabic website) that Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi would be willing to postpone the referendum on the new constitution if opposition forces agree to negotiations without preconditions. The sharia-rife constitution, the haste with which the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled government drafted it and is trying to ram it through, and Morsi's dictatorial declaration -- designed to insulate the new constitution from judicial scrutiny -- have sparked violent protests and counter-protests in which at least six people have been killed and dozens more injured.
At least for public consumption, the positions of the two sides have hardened. Pushed by President Obama to entertain "dialogue," Morsi has said he would meet with opposition leaders on Saturday (i.e., tomorrow) but that the referendum would proceed as scheduled on December 15. Mohamed ElBaradei, the principal voice of the secular opposition, has urged a boycott of the meeting with Morsi and demanded both the retraction of Morsi's declaration and of the draft constitution.
Meantime, while thousands of the regime's adversaries are again rallying today, thousands more Islamist supporters of the Brotherhood and a sharia constitution have been fired up in the mosques. Things are very tense, to say the least.