And the problem is not just in the Middle East. In 2013, Christians were harassed either by the government or social groups in 102 of 198 countries, the highest tally for any religious group:
An earlier study by other researchers reported a 309 percent jump in attacks on Christians in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
Cruelties such as what Soliman endured are commonplace; so are deaths, which conservative estimates put at thousands per year. One Protestant scholar, Todd Johnson of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity, believes the toll is far greater – at least 100,000 per year over the last decade.
A diverse set of motives drives the persecution. In much of the Middle East and parts of Africa, it’s Islamic radicalism; in India, it’s Hindu fundamentalism; in China and North Korea, it’s police states protecting their hegemony, and in Latin America, it’s often vested interests threatened by Christians standing up for peace and justice.