PORTLAND – A few days ago, Mody Botros thought he would be bringing his 12-year-old daughter, Amanda, to Portland from their home in Bridgton so they could protest the oppression of the Mubarak regime in Egypt.

Instead, on Saturday father and daughter found themselves smiling and feeling happy for their relatives and friends living in Botros’ home country.

“We are celebrating with the Egyptian people, congratulating them,” said Botros, 40, who came to the United States from Egypt in 1993, searching for a life with greater opportunity.

Botros and his daughter were two of 15 people who attended an Amnesty International rally in Monument Square on Saturday, calling for the transitional Egyptian government to fully respect human rights as the political landscape there changes.

The Mainers who gathered at the rally facing Congress Street held posters telling passing cars to “Honk 4 Freedom” and calling for “Dignity for All.”

Botros held a sign that said “Justice” in Arabic, while his daughter waved an Egyptian flag.

Botros, who owns a small graphics business, said he has cousins, aunts, uncles and lots of friends in Egypt, and he has been staying in touch with them every day by phone or the Internet.

He said his Egyptian friends and relatives felt a “sense of victory and sense of relief” after Mubarak resigned Friday.

“They’re hopeful and they’re optimists, just happy and trying to dream of a brighter and prosperous future,” he said. “They are proud of themselves.”

His daughter has never been to Egypt, “but she’s been following the news with us, and she’s been asking a lot of questions,” Botros said. “It’s very educational.”

Amanda said she was “shocked” when her father told her how long Hosni Mubarak had been in power.

She said a lot of her teachers and friends have been asking her how the revolution has affected her family.

“I only have one cousin about my age, so it makes me wonder how she must be doing,” Amanda said. “I put myself in her shoes: How is school, and how are people doing? And (I wonder) if any of her friends have gotten hurt. It’s bad, but it’s good that things have changed for them for the better.”

Botros said he used to think that democracy in Egypt was not possible because people were not educated about it, but the Internet and social media have changed all that.

“I’m wrong, and I’m glad to admit that I’m wrong,” he said. “People are reading and writing about democracy. They’re learning from the West and from Europe. They’re learning from free people what it is to be free and how it is to accomplish that freedom. You can’t isolate a nation anymore.”

Botros said he would like to visit his homeland “very soon,” although he does not plan to move back there permanently because his life is here now.

“As things change,” Botros said, “I want a piece of the pie. I want to be there and celebrate with the people.”

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

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