Watch violent supporters of Turkey's Erdogan attack a protester at his New York rally

Kurdish sympathisers interrupted Erdogan's speech at the Marriott hotel in New York City.

Anti-Erodgan protesters punched as they're escorted out of New York eventIBTimes US

Violence erupted inside a New York hotel during a speech by Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Video footage of the incident shows one protester being repeatedly hit in the face by several Erdogan supporters as he is led from the hall.

As many as six protesters interrupted the Turkish premier's speech on on Thursday 21 September, some of them waving Kurdish military flags and one wearing a T-shirt depicting American Michael Israel, who was killed by a Turkish airstrike while fighting for the Kurdish People's Protection Army (YPG) in Syria.

"You're a terrorist. Get out of my country!" one shouted, while another wore a T-shirt reading: "Baby Killer Erdogan."

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They were greeted with derision by the majority of the 2,000-strong crowd at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.

Various clips show punches being thrown and flags ripped out of people's hands. Many of Erdogan's supporters chanted his name to drown out the protests.

One of the protesters, Meghan Bodette, who works for Kurdistan Aid, told the New York Times she wanted to "to call attention to the Turkish state's war crimes and human rights abuses against the Kurdish people".

"Erdogan should not be able to speak here unchallenged, and we challenged him because the American people need to know that a state that claims to be our ally is hindering the fight against Isis in Syria and destroying civilian lives," she added, in a Twitter message.

The New York Police Department confirmed that five or so protesters had been ejected from the event and been "briefly detained".

On 16 May, Turkish and Kurdish protesters clashed outside the Turkish embassy in Washington as Erdogan met with US president Donald Trump. US authorities have since alleged that Erdogan's security guards initiated the fight. A total of 19 people have been indicted in relation to the violence – and 15 of them work for the Turkish president.

"This is a complete scandal. It is a scandalous sign of how justice works in the United States," Erdogan told reporters on Friday 1 September.

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According to press freedom groups, more than 150 journalists are believed to be behind bars in Turkey, the highest number for any country in the world, ahead of China and Egypt.

President Erdogan has contradicted this number, claiming that there were only two jailed journalists in the country. "The rest are either terrorists, or they were carrying guns, or they robbed ATM machines," he said.

It is just over a year since a failed military coup attempted to oust president Erdogan from power in Turkey. Since then, he has strengthened his grip on the institutions of state, dismissing more than 7,000 police, judges and academics.

Erdogan has strengthened his grip on the Turkish stateUmit Bektas/Reuters

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