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

The magazine Der Spiegel has ignited controversy in Germany and elsewhere with a cover illustration that depicts President Trump as an ISIS executioner, brandishing a bloody knife in one hand and the head of Lady Liberty in the other, Reuters reports.

The outlandish cover for the Feb. 4 edition, which includes the caption “America First,” generated debate on Twitter and in German and international media with Alexander Graf Lamsdorff, a member of German’s Free Democrats and vice president of the European Parliament labeling it “tasteless,” according to Reuters.

The artist behind the illustration is Cuban-born Edel Rodriguez who came to the U.S. as a political refugee in 1980, The Washington Post reported.

“It's a beheading of democracy, a beheading of a sacred symbol,” Rodriguez told the paper in defending the illustration. “And clearly, lately, what's associated with beheadings is ISIS, so there's a comparison” between the ISIS extremist group and Trump.

“Both sides are extremists, so I'm just making a comparison between them,” he said.

The cover accompanies a story on the Trump administration and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, according to the Washington Times.

Reuters reported that the cover follows a series of attacks on Berlin's policies by Trump and his aides, marking a rapid deterioration in German relations with the United States.

Last month, Trump said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, staunch ally of President Obama, had made a "catastrophic mistake" with her open-door migration policy. This week his top trade adviser said Germany was using a "grossly undervalued" euro to gain advantage over the United States and its European partners, according to Reuters.

The newswire reported that no one at the U.S. embassy in Berlin was available for comment about the Der Spiegel cover.