Australia, the great land of cricket dreams, is not only that. The country has a very conservative Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, whose loose statements aimed it Australia’s Muslim population will alienate Muslims, as well as leave a bad taste in the most of Pakistani cricket fans. All is not rosy in the land down-under, a country that has become a new haven for Pakistani’s immigrating, studying and touristing. Abbott has announced that Australia will begin denying welfare to individuals thought to be possible terror threats. He has linked Muslims extremism with welfare abuse, saying that dozens of Australians now fighting against freedom in the Middle East had received welfare while living in Australia.

The statements are a victory for conservatives, and US conservatives have especially appreciated the remarks by Tony Abbot. They want to see a similar crackdown on benefits to Muslims in the US, quoting cases where Muslims have scammed the welfare system to receive benefits for multiple wives as “extended family”, even though polygamy is illegal in the US. They call it “welfare Jihad”. UK has had the same issues. A couple years ago, it was reported that a prominent radical Islamic Imam Anjem Choudary in the UK, encouraged British Muslims to fully exploit the British welfare system as a form of “jizya” or tax paid to Muslims by non-believers. Admittedly, these reports are true in the UK and in Australia, these people are dangerous and dishonest. But why is punishment meted out to a specific community. Are they not Australian? Should states have discriminatory economic policy for its own citizens for security reasons?

Much to the dismay of Muslim leaders in Australia, Abbott has also said, “I’ve often heard western leaders describe Islam as a ‘religion of peace’. I wish more Muslim leaders would say that more often, and mean it.” There has been a sharp increase in racism levelled at Muslim Australians since the Martin Place siege in Sydney last year, and the PM’s comments will only create more racism and Islamophobia, polarising communities and creating conflict.

Clear majorities of Muslims in most countries strongly reject violence, including suicide bombing in the name of their religion. Widespread allegations of child sexual abuses in schools and Catholic priests have not led anyone to ban the Catholic Church. Why is it always different when it comes to judging Islam and Muslims? A whole community judged by the action of a few “lone wolves” (as perpetrators of hate crimes against Muslims have been termed in the West). The world over, it is a sad time for liberal notions of tolerance, secular unity, equality as citizens, welfare economics and freedom. It can be argued that the situation of minorities is no better in Muslim countries like ours. But is that an excuse for countries like Australia to start a witchhunt?