President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015. In Southeast Asia, Obama has taken a softer tone on human rights and corruption in a part of the world that rights groups claim is rife with abuses. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
camera (Susan Walsh/AP PHOTO) President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015. In Southeast Asia, Obama has taken a softer tone on human rights and corruption in a part of the world that rights groups claim is rife with abuses. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Obama expressed his wishes during the Christmas season for persecuted Christians around the world, especially those in the Middle East who have experienced "brutal atrocities" at the hands of ISIS.

Obama said he and First Lady Michelle Obama are grateful for nations who respect all peoples’ right to practice their faiths freely.

“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,” he continued.

He also specifically mentioned the persecution of Christians by ISIS -- referred to by the administration as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (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.

“We join with people around the world in praying for God’s protection for persecuted Christians and those of other faiths, as well as for those brave men and women engaged in our military, diplomatic, and humanitarian efforts to alleviate their suffering and restore stability, security, and hope to their nations,” he added.

The First Family is celebrating the holidays in the president’s birthplace of Hawaii.