A German media report says there is strong evidence an anti-Qatar demonstration in Hamburg during the recent G20 summit that got generous coverage in some sections of the pan-Arab news media, was staged.

About 140 protesters had gathered in front of the city's Christuskirche on July 8, holding signs that said "Qatar supports terrorism", according to the report on the ARD-faktenfinder website.

The protest occurred against the backdrop of the diplomatic crisis between Qatar on one side and Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt on the other side.

Some Arab media outlets reported extensively on the demonstration, although it was only a small protest.

"Sky News Arabia reported the event live. Another Egyptian channel as well as Saudi and UAE  media outlets picked up on the protest. The Egyptian newspaper Egypt Today said about 7,000 people demonstrated against Qatar," the ARD-faktenfinder report said.

"But it seems the protest was staged."

Two Egyptian men

Refugees have told ARD-faktenfinder as well as the refugee portal WDRforyo that protesters were paid to demonstrate against Qatar.

Ahmad O, a Syrian refugee from Hamburg, said  he was approached by two Egyptian men named Amro and Mohamed in a park. They offered him 1,000 euros.

In return he was to participate in the protest against Qatar and bring some friends. They promised an additional 100 euros for each of them.

Ahmad O says he called his friends and so a few hundred people showed up for the demonstration: Syrians, Iraqis, Egyptians and North Africans.

"There were some harbour workers who came for the money," Ahmad O says in the report.

"But when we were there, they only gave us money for 100 people. The other 300 people didn't get anything. So they were upset and started chanting for Qatar. The protest turned into a pro-Qatar demonstration."

Efforts by Al Jazeera to contact the Egyptian embassy in Berlin for its comments were unsuccessful. 

Account confirmed

Other refugees have confirmed Ahmad O's account of the developments.

Mustafa Hassan, from a refugee facility in Hamburg, wrote to WDRforyou: "People in the refugee camp have told me: 'Come with us. 100 euros for two hours. We go together. We just have to participate in a protest against Qatar. There's nothing to worry about.' But I declined."

In another video, the voice of a purported protest participant says people got paid to protest against Qatar.

The local police have confirmed that about 140 people attended a "rally against Qatar and its support of terrorism", but they did not witness any refugees being paid for participating.

According to the police press office, 50 people left the demonstration and "significantly disturbed the protest".

The young men then ran away and there is video footage of them destroying protest signs and chanting pro-Qatar slogans.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies