German magazine sparks furor with cover of Trump beheading Statue of Liberty

Germany's influential weekly magazine Der Spiegel has sparked controversy after it published a cover illustration of Donald Trump beheading the Statue of Liberty. In the illustration, he has no eyes, no nose, but his mouth is open as if he's letting out a battle cry. Two words appear beside him: America First.

It didn't take long for the cover to attract criticism.

Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a member of Germany's Free Democrats (FDP) and vice president of the European Parliament, called the cover "tasteless".

"The Spiegel cover is exactly what Trump needs - a distorted image of him that he can make use of for his own distorted image of the press", writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung broadsheet.

"Der Spiegel does not want to provoke anybody".

Another, showing President Trump surrounded by shooting flames, asked the question with its lead article: "USA: The most risky man in the world: Why do we have to take Donald Trump seriously as a candidate for presidential elections?". "It literally pains me to write about all that has happened in these first days".

The shocking front page image accompanies a lead article which claims quite matter-of-factly that "The president of the U.S.is a racist". He is attempting a coup from the top; he wants to establish an illiberal democracy, or worse; he wants to undermine the balance of power.

Der Spiegel is one of Europe's largest weekly magazines, and the cover provoked a heated discussion on social media both in Germany and overseas, and drew criticism from other German media outlets and some politicians.

The magazine, Der Spiegel used the cartoon originated by US-Curban artists and political refugee Edel Rodriguez. "We want to show what this is about, it's about democracy, it's about freedom, it's about freedom of the press, freedom of justice and all that is seriously endangered", editor-in-chief Klaus Brinkbaeumer told Reuters TV after the cover caused a stir on Twitter and in German and global media.

Cartoonist Rodriguez asserted he was making a comparison between Trump and Isis militants who behead their victims, because "both sides are extremists".

"I was 9 years old when I came here, so I remember it well, and I remember the feelings and how little kids feel when they are leaving their country", Rodriguez said.