Cuban Artist’s Depiction of Trump as Terrorist Sparks International Controversy

The cover illustration of DER SPIEGEL this week. (Photo: Der Spiegel)


NEW YORK, United States, Wednesday February 8, 2017 – A Cuban artist’s depiction of US President Donald Trump decapitating the Statue of Liberty on the front cover of German magazine Der Spiegel (The Mirror) has ignited heated debate.

The ISIS-style illustration by Edel Rodriguez, who entered the US as a refugee from Cuba in 1980, has prompted intense reaction from around the world.

Reaction to the Der Spiegel cover has been mixed. Some are praising the magazine for its stance, while others such as Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a member of Germany’s Free Democrats (FDP) and vice president of the European Parliament, are calling it “tasteless.”

The image on the publication, regarded as Germany’s most influential news magazine, shows a cartoon Trump brandishing a bloodied knife in his left hand, with the statue’s severed head in his right, while blood cascades onto the ground.

It is captioned “America First”, a phrase used by Trump as a slogan during his campaign and repeated in his inaugural speech.

The illustration comes against the backdrop of protests around the world over Trump’s travel ban. The controversial order, now embroiled in litigation, had banned foreign nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for 90 days, suspended all refugee entry to the country for 120 days, and indefinitely suspended entry for Syrian refugees.

Rodriguez, a former political refugee, told the Washington Post: “It’s a beheading of democracy, a beheading of a sacred symbol.”

The Cuban artist said he drew a link between ISIS and Trump, adding that “both sides are extremists, so I’m just making a comparison between them.”

In an editorial on its English website, Der Spiegel editor Klaus Brinkbäumer wrote of Trump: “With his style of rule – his decrees, his appointments and his firings – he is dividing Washington and the rest of the country.”

Trump “wants to establish an illiberal democracy, or worse; he wants to undermine the balance of power,” Brinkbäumer added.

This is not the first time that Rodriguez has produced a controversial image of the new US president.

During the 2016 campaign, the Cuban artist drew a Trump illustration for the cover of Time Magazine without adding facial features. The image featured only a large open mouth.

That’s the way I see him,” Rodriguez told the Washington Post. “I see him as someone that’s very angry, and it’s pretty much his mouth that’s moving all the time, so that’s how I tend to show him in some of my work.”

This also is not the first time Der Spiegel has featured Trump on its front cover. In November, it published an illustration of Trump as a meteor speeding toward Earth.

It is also not the first time a news outlet has published an image of Trump decapitating the Statue of Liberty. The New York Daily News published a similar illustration on its front page in 2015.

Der Spiegel is among several magazines recently to use illustrations to voice opinions on Trump’s policies.

The New Yorker’s current cover features John W. Tomac’s illustration, “Liberty’s Flameout”, showing a trail of smoke from the Statue of Liberty’s extinguished torch.

“It used to be that the Statue of Liberty, and her shining torch, was the vision that welcomed new immigrants,” Tomac told the magazine. “And, at the same time, it was the symbol of American values. Now it seems that we are turning off the light.”

Bloomberg Businessweek adorned its front cover with a photo showing Trump holding what appears to be an executive order.

But on the paper inside the folder, it says: “(Insert hastily drafted, legally dubious, economically destabilizing executive order here).”

And The Economist also made waves with its front-page image of Trump throwing a Molotov cocktail along with the caption: “An insurgent in the White House.”

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