Der Spiegel editor defends Donald Trump cover cartoon showing him beheading Statue of Liberty

'It's about democracy, it's about freedom, it's about freedom of the press, freedom of justice and all that is seriously endangered'

The drawing, by Cuban-born artist Edel Rodriguez, has ignited controversy, with critics both in Germany and the U.S. claiming it is too provocative.
The drawing, by Cuban-born artist Edel Rodriguez, has ignited controversy, with critics both in Germany and the U.S. claiming it is too provocative.

The editor-in-chief of Der Spiegel has defended a controversial cover showing President Donald Trump beheading the Statue of Liberty with a bloody knife, saying the German magazine is "defending democracy" in "serious times".

Appearing alongside the headline 'America First', the graphic cartoon implies a comparison between Mr Trump and decapitation-heavy Isis propaganda videos.

Combatting the terror group is a key policy aim for the Trump administration, but Der Spiegel editor Klaus Brinkbäumer suggested policies like the 'Muslim ban' refusing travel rights to refugees and citizens of seven majority-Islamic countries ran counter to liberal values.

Speaking on Reuters TV, he said: “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.

"So we are defending democracy... Are these serious times? Yes they are."

Mr Brinkbäumer went into more detail in an editorial for Der Spiegel, which, with a circulation of around 840,000, is one of Europe's largest and most influential news magazines.

He compared Mr Trump to Nero, "the emperor and destroyer of Rome", writing: "Germany must stand up in opposition to the 45th president of the United States and his government."

"It is literally painful to write this sentence, but the President of the United States is a pathological liar.

"The President of the US is a racist (it also hurts to write this). 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.

"He fired an acting attorney general who held a differing opinion from his own and accused her of 'betrayal'. This is the vocabulary used by Nero."

His comments came amid fierce debate in the German and international media, with conservative commentators decrying the striking image by illustrator Edel Rodriguez, a refugee who left socialist Cuba for the United States.

Conservative broadsheet Die Welt led condemnation of the cartoon, arguing it showed Mr Trump's harshest critics had "lost all their moral guidelines".

The cartoon is currently the banner image on the magazine's Twitter and Facebook pages, while a previous Spiegel cover by Mr Rodriguez showed Donald Trump's disembodied head as a blazing comet hurtling towards Earth.

This week, the Economist magazine ran with a cartoon of a baseball-hatted Mr Trump preparing to hurl a molotov cocktail, while Ireland's Village magazine opted for a photo of Mr Trump with a sniper crosshairs trained on his temple and the caption: "Why not".

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