War on Women & Womens’ Rights. “Scheherazade” Painting. Heroines

Gideon Polya, “War on Women & Womens’ Rights. “Scheherazade” Painting. Heroines”, MWC News, 24 August 2007.

For image of "Scheherazade" see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/4288354117/ .

War on Women & Women’s Rights. “Scheherazade” Painting. Heroines

Scheherazade was the Persian woman immortalized in the One Thousand and One Nights or Arabian Nights. This wonderful collection of stories from the Muslim World was introduced to the West in the 19th century through the translation into English by the famous Arabist, Orientalist  and traveler Sir Richard Burton. Generations of Western children have been brought up on these wonderful stories but it has taken only a few decades for Racist Bush-ites, Racist Zionists, complicit Western media and Bush-ite politicians to replace a legacy of affection with a culture of hatred and fear.

I have painted a huge painting “Scheherazade” (1.3 metres by 2.9 metres) to remind people of the World and of the West in particular of this heroine of the Muslim world and of the billion contemporary heroines of the Third World – the women, girls and mothers who day by day attempt to protect their children and families and deal with the exigencies of life on Spaceship Earth dominated by a greedy, racist and rapacious Bush-ite West.

We will recall the famous Scheherazade story. The Persian King Shahryar was upset over betrayal by his wife who he consequently beheaded. He then took to taking a new virgin wife each night and then beheading her the following morning. King Shahryar had killed 3,000 such innocent women before he was introduced to Scheherazade, the daughter of his Grand Vizier. Against the fearful protests of her father, Scheherazade offered herself to the King. However on the first night in the King’s chamber she told the King that she had promised to tell a last farewell story to her sister Dunyazad. The King remained awake and was enthralled by the story. Scheherazade remained alive and was ordered to tell another story on the following night. After One Thousand and One Nights and One Thousand and One stories, 3 sons and extensive moral instruction of the King, Scheherazade was made Queen and, as they say, they all lived happily ever after.

There are MANY contemporary, latter-day Scheherazades, latter-day heroines who inspire immense admiration for their courageous moral instruction of the world on behalf of the suppressed and downtrodden women of the Third World. Two stand out, namely brilliant Indian writer Arundhati Roy and the courageous Bangladeshi doctor and writer Taslima Nasrin.

Arundhati Roy (Kerala Syrian Christian mother, Bengali Hindu father) came to fame with the Booker Prize-winning novel  “The God of Small Things”.  She has used her fame to promote humanitarian causes in India and around the world, writing numerous books excoriating poverty and “internal refugees” in India (notably concerning the Narmada Dam and India’s nuclear weapons policies) and Western invasion and occupation of Asian countries (notably by violent, racist American imperialism). Some of these polemical books of humanitarian advocacy include “The Cost of Living”, “The Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire” and  “The Chequebook and the Cruise Missile”. In 2005 Arundhati Roy headed the World Tribunal on Iraq that condemned the war criminal invasion and devastation of Iraq by America and its allies.

Taslima Nasrin is a Bangladeshi doctor and writer who, while of Muslim origin, is an atheist, secular humanist and feminist advocate for the human rights of women. The Holy Qu’ran makes it quite clear that religious belief is personal and cannot be imposed by force. However Taslima Nasrina is a refugee from homicidal religious fanatics in her native land and elsewhere. She has written numerous novels (e.g. “Opposition”, “Revenge”, “Invitation”, “Return”, and “Shame”), autobiographical and polemical books and much poetry.  This gifted, immensely courageous, humanitarian writer and advocate has been awarded numerous prizes for her humane advocacy.

Arundhati Roy and Taslima Nasrin are two stand-outs in the War on Women and the War on  Third World Women being conducted both by Third World dictators and bigots and by racist Western imperialists. However there are so many more courageous women advocates of Womens’ Rights, Child Rights and Human Rights and hundreds of millions more who do their best -  day by day, with dignity and courage -  to ensure survival for themselves, their families and their children.

“Scheherazade” is one of a series of HUGE culturally-conflating paintings created to promote Humanity and East-West Amity, the other most notable efforts (all originally exhibited on MWC News) being  “Isfahan Matisse”:, “Alhambra Pollock”:,  “Terra” and “Bundoora Arabesque” (see these on Fllickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/ ).

These paintings all involve a conflation of Medieval Islamic tile art patterns (mathematically, the 17 plane symmetry groups defined by my great uncle Hungarian mathematician George Polya in the 1920s and exploited by Dutch lithographer M.C. Escher); Renaissance Italian Golden Rectangle geometries used in much Christian iconography and in subsequent painting up to the present day (mathematically based on the Fibonacci Sequence – the “Da Vinci Code” – 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34 …); figurative cave paintings of 20,000 years ago in Europe and Australia (notably the so-called Bradshaw Figures of the Bungle Bungles in North Western Australia); and with the end result being something akin to the secular, humanist art of contemporary French Henri Matisse and American Jackson Pollock abstract expressionism.

The beautiful idea  is that if these cultures can co-exist in a beautiful painting then they can surely co-exist in real life human rights-respecting world of the kind advocated by Arundhati Roy and Taslima Nasrin. There is a long way to go. I have recently published a huge book entitled “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007).  Post-1950 avoidable deaths (excess deaths, deaths that did not have to happen) total 1.3 billion (for the World), 1.2 billion (the non-European World), 1.1 billion (the Third World), and 0.6 billion (the Muslim World); annual avoidable mortality totals 16 million (mostly infants and mostly in the Third World); post-invasion excess deaths total 0.3 million, 1.0 million and 2.4 million, respectively,  in the Occupied Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan Territories – and all this on a Spaceship Earth with a Bush-ite West  in charge of the flight deck.  Three quarters of the victims are Women and Children.

The Bush War on Terror can be seen in horrible actuality as a War on Terra (a greedy War on the Biosphere) and a War on Women and Children, or more specifically a War on Arab Women and Children, a War on Muslim Women and Children, a War on Asian Women and Children, a War on Non-European Women and Children, and a War on Third World Women and Children.

The War on Women continues. Humane, articulate, passionate advocacy by our present-day Scheherazades, Arundhati Roy and Taslima Nasrin has no trouble convincing decent humanity just as Scheherazade convinced even the murderous King Shahryar – but fails to convince the selfish, greedy and racist First World which IGNORES the carnage it creates. Arundhati Roy has commented thus in “The Chequebook and the Cruise Missile” on this simultaneous First World holocaust  commission and holocaust denial: “the ultimate privilege of the élite is not just their deluxe lifestyles, but deluxe lifestyles with a clear conscience.”

Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity. We are obliged to inform others about gross abuses of human rights, following the examples of Third World heroines such as Arundhati Roy and Taslima Nasrin. The Pen is mightier than the Sword – but is it possible that the Brush is mightier than the Pen? On the basis of this possibility, please send this article and the image of “Scheherazade” to everyone you know.   

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