April 26, 2022

Muslim women and men have been misrepresented in the media for far too long. In an effort to change that, Karter Zaher and Doaa Alhawamdeh have stolen the stage with their “Hijabi Queens” NFT and murals on Brookhurst St. in Anaheim’s Little Arabia.

CAIR-LA Communications Coordinator Hadir Azab recently sat down with the couple to discuss their goal of empowering Muslim women around the world and their efforts to include Muslims in all sectors—including the metaverse. 

Watch: Karter Zaher and Doaa Alhawamdeh Explain NFTs 

Photos: Hadir Azab

Hadir Azab: Tell me a little about yourselves.  

Karter: My name is Karter Zaher and I am an artist, born and raised in Canada. I was part of an international hip hop duo called Deen Squad. I’ve always had a passion and affinity for empowering the Muslim community.  

Doaa: My name is Doaa Alhawamdeh. I have a background that’s completely in the medical field. So, nothing to do with any of this stuff. I started off as a volunteer in the hospital, phlebotomist, EMT, paramedic, vertical. Now, [I’m a] travel ER nurse. The NFT project, though, does still come to me easy as it does with Karter, because we’re both really passionate about empowering hijabi sisters.  

HA: What made you both want to begin working with NFTs, eventually leading to the creation of your own NFT?  

Karter: So, we went through many NFT projects, and we didn’t find anything that was in line with our beliefs and our morals. Everything was quite actually opposite of what Muslims stand for. So, we took initiative to be the first NFT project to empower the Muslim community.  

HA: Why did you feel did you feel the need to like put Muslim community, specifically hijabi women, in that specific sector? We can change our representation in the media in many ways; why did you choose this one? 

Karter: So, what the cool thing about the blockchain is that every time a person buys an NFT it’s verifiable that you own this NFT on this ledger on this blockchain. So, if we were able to gather let’s just say 5,000 hijabi women to purchase something all come together, pull in their money to purchase something that we all have in common, and we’re able to verify that this thing is legitimate, legitimately owned on the blockchain, then take that funding and utilize that money to create our own network, create our own economy, create our own world.  

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HA: How do you think the empowering aspect of your mission aligns with or can align with organizations like CAIR?  

Doaa: I think it does align because a lot of people that seek help from CAIR, yeah, are people that are suffering from discrimination, being stereotyped being harassed all this stuff. And unfortunately, it’s because we’ve been misrepresented for far too long.  

Karter: [CAIR’s mission] goes hand in hand with our NFT project, because we’re changing the representation and we are empowering our community. We’re almost doing that; we’re on the same mission. The stronger our NFT project becomes, the more we’re normalizing hijabi women. 

HA: Do you see that as an important step in the right direction for the representation of hijabi women in the media? For example, in something as big as Netflix showing a proper hijabi woman?  

Doaa: [Big production companies] for far too long have, for example, only put in a Muslim character in their movies when that character is related to terrorism. Or on Netflix, when the character does not like the fact that they’re Muslim, they’re trying ways to break free from Islam. It’s insane. So, we’re literally just taking that stage back. Honestly, that’s what it is because other people outside of the community have had that stage and they’ve hogged that mic for so long. 

Karter and Doaa are not planning to stop at “Hijabi Queens,” however. Their upcoming NFT, “Bearded Kings,” is their next step in taking the stage, and this time, the spotlight is on Muslim men. Projects such as “Hijabi Queens” and “Bearded Kings,” along with CAIR’s mission to enhance the understanding of Islam, work hand-in-hand to shift the public image of Muslims as a whole.  

We can’t wait to hear more about where they are headed, and how they will continue to inspire our community.