NEW YORK – A group of law students rallied against the tactics of the New York Police Department’s secret surveillance programme of Muslims on Saturday, calling it racist and unjustified.

Dozens of protesters from the Fordham Law Muslim Students Association picketed outside a University Alumni Association luncheon on Wall Street to make their voices heard.

Chanting ‘no justice, no peace! no racist police!’ and waving signs, the protesters called for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to step down. Kelly was appearing at the luncheon as a guest speaker. ‘We know that while the vast majority of Muslim student associations and their members are law-abiding, we have seen too many cases in which such groups were exploited’, he said.

Meanwhile, in the neighbouring state of New Jersey, Muslim leaders, State and federal officials discussed the Garden State’s response to the NYPD’s programme. They met with State and Federal law-enforcement officials for nearly three hours in Trenton, saying they hope the State Attorney General will announce a formal investigation into the matter.

Aref Assaf, the head of the Paterson-based American Arab Forum says he hopes the meeting will go beyond merely discussing relationships between Muslim residents and law-enforcement in New Jersey, which traditionally have been positive.

The NYPD’s surveillance of New Jersey’s Muslim community has generated a firestorm of controversy.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie blasted Commissioner Kelly and the NYPD for behaviour he suggests is ‘arrogant, paranoid and dangerous’.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker has also spoken out against the programme.

‘This is the New York Police Department. I know they think their jurisdiction is the world, their jurisdiction is New York City’, Christie said earlier this week.

A report released last month shows the NYPD kept tabs on Muslim businesses and mosques in New Jersey and on Long Island.

But Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the surveillance is justified.

‘To say that the NYPD should stop at the borders is a bit ridiculous’, Bloomberg said Friday.

Congressman Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, also supports the surveillance and lashed out at Christie on a radio show. .

Booker said on Thursday that since learning of the NYPD’s efforts to monitor the community, some Muslims in the City had become afraid to pray in mosques.

And while politicians have their war of words, the spying has outraged Muslim residents in New Jersey.

‘The sad part is that Bloomberg is totally condoning the idea of spying on innocent people’, said Muhammad Elfiali of the Islamic Center of Passaic County. ‘It’s outrageous’.

‘It alienates us as Americans. We have to look over our shoulder, we have to say we’re Muslims and yet we’re helping law-enforcement agencies and we’re trying to do all these things and yet here again is another example of betrayal’, said Nadia Kahf from CAIR, New Jersey. We don’t know how far reaching it is and that is one of the reasons we’re asking for the investigation’.

‘It is nothing concrete, nothing specific. Like I said, they are understanding and there are promises for getting to the bottom of it and for me that is more than enough’, said Muhammad Younus, President of the American Muslim Union.