U.S. President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks to the media during his year end press conference in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House December 18, 2015 in Washington, DC. Later today President Obama will travel to San Bernardino, California, to meet with families of the 14 victims of the recent mass shooting, before heading to Hawaii for Christmas vacation and return on January 3, 2016.
Alex Wong—Getty Images
December 23, 2015 5:08 PM EST

As Christmas nears, the Obama family is offering prayers to Christians facing persecution around the world.

In a statement released Wednesday, President Obama asked Americans to remember Christians outside of the United States, who may not be able to freely practice their religion.

“Michelle and I are also ever-mindful that many of our fellow Christians do not enjoy that right, and hold especially close to our hearts and minds those who have been driven from their ancient homelands by unspeakable violence and persecution,” President Obama said in a statement.

The President pointed the finger at those who are actively persecuting Christians in the Middle East—namely ISIS, also known as ISIL. “In some areas of the Middle East where church bells have rung for centuries on Christmas Day, this year they will be silent; this silence bears tragic witness to the brutal atrocities committed against these communities by ISIL,” he said.

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