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Der Spiegel: Trump beheading cover sparks criticism

Der Spiegel cover shows a cartoon of Donald Trump in a suit, with no nose or eyes, holding the severed head of the statue of liberty in his right hand and a large, bloodied knife in his left hand. Written alongside are the words: America First. Image copyright Der Spiegel/Reuters
Image caption Der Spiegel ('The Mirror') is regarded as Germany's most influential news magazine

Germany's influential weekly news magazine Der Spiegel has come under fire for a cover image showing US President Donald Trump beheading the Statue of Liberty.

Some German newspapers criticised the cartoon, while the German vice-president of the European Parliament called it "tasteless".

The cartoonist, Edel Rodriguez, said the image represented "the beheading of democracy".

US-German relations have deteriorated under President Trump, who has criticised the policies of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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Media captionWhat people in Berlin say about controversial cover

He said last month that her policy of welcoming masses of migrants who arrived in Germany had been a "catastrophic mistake". His trade adviser also recently attacked Germany for gaining unfair trade advantages from a "grossly undervalued" euro.

The front cover image is similar to one that appeared on the front page of the New York Daily News in December 2015, also showing Mr Trump beheading the Statue of Liberty but in a less gory fashion.


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  • Mass-market tabloid Bild, which has the Jihadi John headline, says that Der Spiegel has been accused of anti-Americanism in the past. "Then [during the George W Bush presidency] it was often American interventionism that Spiegel was criticising, while with Trump it is the end of interventionism that Spiegel is criticising," it says.
  • "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. It says the cover lacks a sense of irony and that equating Mr Trump and terrorism is too simple.
  • Die Welt, another broadsheet, says that the cover "damages journalism" rather than the new president "because it confirms many people's preconception that the 'mainstream media' does biased reporting and that many journalists prefer to promote their own worldview than be neutral witnesses to what is happening."

Mr Rodriguez, who arrived in the US as a political refugee from Cuba in 1980 told the Washington Post that he wanted to make a comparison between the Islamic State and Donald Trump, saying "both sides are extremists".

Der Spiegel editor Klaus Brinkbaumer wrote in an editorial that Mr Trump was "attempting a coup from the top" and wanted to "establish an illiberal democracy".

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The White House has accused liberal media groups of false and irresponsible reporting designed to smear President Trump and the new administration.

Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a member of the Germany's Free Democrats and vice-president of the European Parliament, said the cover said more about Der Spiegel journalists than Mr Trump.

"The cover plays on the lives of terror victims in a very nasty way," he told Bild.

Several other magazines are using the front covers of their next editions to comment on the US president and his policies.


Bloomberg Businessweek shows Mr Trump holding an executive order, which says: "(Insert hastily drafted, legally dubious, economically destabilizing executive order here)."

Image copyright @BW

British weekly The Economist, which has endorsed both Republican and Democratic presidents, pictures President Trump throwing a molotov cocktail.

Image copyright @TheEconomist

The New Yorker, a liberal magazine which endorsed Hillary Clinton, shows the Statue of Liberty's flame extinguished.

Image copyright New Yorker/Instagram

The conservative National Review's cover story defends nationalism, which it says critics of Mr Trump's inauguration speech wrongly see as dangerous.

Image copyright @jackfowler

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