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Agency seeks extras to enact anti-Qatar protest Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Agency seeks extras to enact anti-Qatar protest

Twitter bots spread hash-tags opposing the Qatari Emir's UK visit (Getty)

Date of publication: 23 July, 2018

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An extras agency put up an ad to hire actors for an anti-Qatar protest as the Qatari leader visits London.

An actor agency was seen advertising for extras to participate in an anti-Qatar protest outside the Qatari embassy in London to coincide with the visit of Qatar’s Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani. 

Extras were told by the agency "Extra People" that they would be paid twenty pounds to stand outside the embassy for two hours. 

"This is NOT a film or TV production."  The advert read.

"The company are looking for a large group of people to fill space outside downing street during the visit of the president of Qatar. This is anti-Qatar event. You will not have to do or say anything, they just want to fill space."

Later on Monday the agency pulled the advert saying "on reflection...we do not feel extra people should be involved in such a project." 

Small protests were held on Sunday against the Emir’s visit in London, yet a twitter user reported that some of those participating said they were paid and bused in from Birmingham. 

There was also a billboard in Whitechapel, east London, protesting the visit.  The associated hashtag #OpposeQatarVisit was shared by twitter users, especially by accounts located in Saudi Arabia, and analysis by the New Arab showed that many were likely twitter bots. 

The social media campaign comes amid the continuing year-long blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, following the hacking of Qatar News Agency's website in June 2017.

Hackers had posted a fake story on the agency's site with fabricated quotes, attributed to the emir, praising Iran, Israel and Hizballah.

US intelligence sources later told The Washington Post that the UAE was probably behind the hacking, which sparked the most serious diplomatic crisis in the Gulf for years.

After the blockade on Qatar failed to gain momentum, the UAE and Saudi Arabia used government-linked newspapers and social media to try and link Qatar to Iran and extremist groups such as al-Qaeda.

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