Fake protestors were paid $100 to take part in anti-Qatar demonstrations outside the headquarters of the United Nations in New York in what is believed to be part of an ongoing international smear campaign against the Gulf country.
The fake protest was exposed by one of the demonstrators who took part in the smear campaign. The protestor told the Independent that she had spotted a “vague” Facebook post asking locals in Brooklyn to “wave flags” and “stand up for peace” near the UN’s headquarters in Manhattan on 25 September.
Speaking to the British newspaper she said there was no mention of Qatar in the post, but on arrival at around 2pm she found it was “clearly” a protest against the Gulf state, featuring “lots of French speakers” holding signs. She said she was given $100 on arrival and handed anti-Qatar banners to waive during the protest.
The woman who was not named said that there were up to 40 people in her group and when they arrived outside the UN to join the protest there was a second group of 40 demonstrators holding similar anti-Qatari placards.
The woman shared with the Independent a Facebook message sent by the apparent organiser, a woman called Nezha Tagmouti.
“I am organising an event which is to promote peace in the world,” Tagmouti wrote. “There will be music, speeches for peace that will be before the United Nations.
“I need extras of people who will just listen to the speech, applaud and have the flags of all the countries around the world. These extras are paid $100 each.”
A Qatari diplomat told the Independent: “Qatar continues to be the target of an international smear campaign designed to damage its reputation and strip it of the 2022 World Cup.”
“The campaign has repeatedly used underhand tactics, including paid protests, as part of a failed attempt to spread false accusations and manipulate opinions of Qatar in the United States, Europe and beyond.”
Tagmouti is thought to be the same women behind the fake anti-Qatar protest outside the British parliament. The Independent was unable to comment on Tagmouti’s motives but her Facebook page revealed that she was part of a group attempting to hire extras for an “advert” in London on 22 July, the same day Qatar’s ruler, Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, arrived in the UK capital.
Some 500 fake protestors were hired to join an anti-Qatar demonstration in front of Downing Street. The casting agency Extra People, based in the United Kingdom, advertised for protesters to join the demonstrations.
While the Independent did not mention the source of anti-Qatar smear campaign, the tiny Gulf state has been subjected to a blockade by its Arab neighbours since summer 2017. Following the rift between the Gulf countries a Dubai based PR firm that was paid half a billion dollars to produce fake terrorist videos in Iraq, was hired to produce films accusing Qatar of links to terrorism.