PORTLAND (AP) – A new magazine launched by a University of New England professor and an Internet entrepreneur in Connecticut seeks to showcase liberal voices from their Moroccan homeland.

The first issue of Tingis, a quarterly believed to be the world’s only English-language periodical about Morocco, came out in November, with 20,000 copies printed.

Anouar Majid, the 43-year-old chairman of the English Department at the University of New England in Biddeford, is editor of Tingis.

He hopes that the magazine will counter images of Islamic fundamentalists that dominate the American media as well as Arab stereotypes of the United States.

“People want to force you – both sides – into a category,” he said.

Tingis, which is subtitled “A Moroccan-American Magazine of Ideas and Culture,” features articles on religion, art, literature and film. The first issue provides a glimpse into the complexity of a society that is part of Africa, but also has Mediterranean and Arab influences. Politics are sometimes discussed, but never in a confrontational way.

“I would love to have political pieces, but not polemical ones,” Majid said. “Too many people are doing those.”

A few years ago, Majid was interviewed on Wafin.com, an Internet portal for Moroccan-Americans. The article caught the attention of Khalid Gourad, who owns the Web site; the two met in spring 2002 in Portland to discuss launching a magazine.

Majid says it’s not a coincidence that the magazine was hatched in the months that followed Sept. 11, 2001. A French Moroccan, Zacarias Moussaoui, was being prosecuted in connection with the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But the nuances of Moroccan society were often obscured by broad generalizations about the “Arab world.”

That response was frustrating to Majid, who was raised in the international city of Tangier, just nine miles from Spain and even closer to English-speaking Gibraltar. He acknowledges that today he feels a greater affinity with Spain than with much of the Middle East.

Majid hopes to publish articles by Jews, Christians and atheists, points of view in the Middle East that are often drowned out by Islamic fundamentalism.

Morocco’s rich pre-Islamic history is the source of the magazine’s title, he says. Tingis was the mythical wife of Antaeus and, later, Hercules.

Majid’s magazine may have a limited circulation – there are only about 70,000 Moroccan-Americans, he says – but it has struck a chord.

“People kind of like it. People think there’s a huge operation behind it or something,” Majid said with a laugh. “It’s by two people who have never done a magazine before.”

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