Obama offers prayer for persecuted Christians suffering under 'unspeakable violence'


President Obama today said that he will mark Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent alongside his "fellow Christians" in prayer for those who are persecuted around the world.

"We pray for all those who suffer, including those Christians who are subjected to unspeakable violence and persecution for their faith," Obama said, speaking on behalf of himself and his wife, Michelle.

"Lent is a season of reflection, repentance and renewal, a time to rededicate ourselves to God and one another."

He added: "We join millions here at home and around the world in giving thanks for this sacred and solemn season that guides us toward the Easter celebration."

Obama has been criticised by conservative voices for not having done enough to protect Christians in the Middle East who are suffering under regimes such as ISIS.

The President has also strongly opposed the anti-Muslim rhetoric present in the US, standing against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's proposition to bar Muslim immigrants from entering the country.

In an address at the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque in Maryland last week, Obama said people of all faiths and none must reaffirm a "fundamental truth: we are all God's children, we are all born equally with inherent dignity."

"Christians, Jews and Muslims, we are all under our faiths descendants of Abraham, so mere tolerance is not enough. Our faiths summon us to embrace our common humanity," he said.

"All of us have the task of expressing our religious faith in a way that seeks to build bridges rather than to divide."