Furore over image in German magazine

US President Donald Trump is depicted beheading the Statue of Liberty on the cover of the latest issue of German news magazine Der Spiegel.
US President Donald Trump is depicted beheading the Statue of Liberty on the cover of the latest issue of German news magazine Der Spiegel.PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN • German weekly magazine Der Spiegel sparked controversy at home and abroad last Saturday with a cover illustration of US President Donald Trump beheading the Statue of Liberty.

It depicts a cartoon figure of Mr Trump with a bloodied knife in one hand and the statue's head, dripping blood, in the other. It carries the caption, "America First".

The artist who designed the cover, Mr Edel Rodriguez, a Cuban who arrived in the United States in 1980 as a political refugee, told The Washington Post: "It's a beheading of democracy, a beheading of a sacred symbol."

The cover set off a debate on Twitter and in German and international media, with Mr Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a member of Germany's Free Democrats and vice-president of the European Parliament, calling it "tasteless".

The image, which shows an orange face featureless save for a wide-open mouth, was seized upon for discussion by other media outlets in Germany and beyond.


US President Donald Trump is depicted beheading the Statue of Liberty on the cover of the latest issue of German news magazine Der Spiegel. PHOTO: REUTERS 

The Bild tabloid saw a direct parallel with Mohammed Emwazi, the British national known by the pseudonym "Jihadi John", who was seen in several videos showing the beheading of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria hostages.

Liberal conservative broadsheet Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung warned that if the media demonised Mr Trump, that could play into his hands. "The Spiegel cover is just what Trump needs - a distorted image of him which he can use to further his own distorted image of the press," it said.

The image was widely shared on social media and on posters waved by protesters at a rally last Saturday in Berlin to denounce Mr Trump's temporary ban on migrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The cover follows a series of attacks on Berlin's policies by Mr Trump and his aides, marking a rapid deterioration in German relations with the US. Chancellor Angela Merkel was the go-to European ally for former US president Barack Obama, who praised her as "an outstanding partner".

Last month, Mr Trump said Dr Merkel had made a "catastrophic mistake" with her open-door migration policy and, last week, his top trade adviser said Germany was using a "grossly undervalued"euro to gain advantage over the US and its European partners.

No one was available for comment on the Spiegel cover at the US Embassy in Berlin.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2017, with the headline 'Furore over image in German magazine'. Print Edition | Subscribe