Running veils and long burqas are a common sight in the Middle East, the region that is known for its vast oil fields and majority Muslim population. These veils are meant to keep the faces of Muslim women hidden in public spaces.
Theocratic Islamic societies are known to see women as passive members of society. This is part of Sharia law. Because of this, women often take a back seat in societal matters and have fewer civil rights than male citizens.
Censorship and Resistance
For the women who aspire to break free of these limitations, their efforts are usually met with staunch criticism, resistance and violence. Such was the case of digital artist, Shurooq Amin, who started painting at a young age.
Her work, which often centers on societal taboos and paradoxes, is considered too extreme by Theocratic authorities. Her first major art exhibition was shut down within three hours of opening in 2012. The exhibition, titled “It's a Man’s world,” was labeled provocative and “inappropriate.” This cancellation was only the first in a long list of controversies that followed Amin.
Finding Expression through NFT
Amidst this repression, NFT art came as a refuge for many Muslim women like Shurooq who sought a safe medium of self-expression. Along with Shoruuq, other notable Muslim women finding freedom through NFTs are Sharifa AlBarami, Nour Hage, and Raya Oklah.
In 2021, Shoruuq Amin launched the Popcornographic NFT collection where she compiled all of her previously banned art—this inspired many to follow her footsteps. Nasreen Faqihi launched the first female-made, blockchain-native collection, called the Crypto Camels Club. Subsequently, the Beyond Power NFT collection was launched by Raya Oklah. Beyond Power is aimed at showcasing both the strength of Muslim women and the immense opportunities of web3.
Nour Hage's NFTs depict female leaders from history. Her first set of digital portraits highlight some of the most powerful females to ever live in the region—Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, Dido, founder and Queen of Carthage, and Zenobia, Queen of the Palmyrene Empire.
Through the example of these courageous artists, it is clear that NFTs have become a tool of freedom! Web3 is helping Muslim women subvert oppression and exert Freedom of Expression.