"We reflect on these universal values at a time when many citizens across the Middle East and North Africa continue to strive for these basic rights and as millions of refugees mark Ramadan far from their homes," Obama said. "The United States stands with those who are working to build a world where all people can write their own future and practice their faith freely, without fear of violence."

The statement came amid calls from Islamic leaders for the United States to halt its force-feeding of Guantánamo Bay detainees during the monthlong fast. Detainees there have launched the hunger strikes in protest of their indefinite detention.

"We believe it's wrong to force-feed at any time, but it is particularly upsetting to do it through Ramadan," Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council On American-Islamic Relations, told The Guardian.

"It's not just a religious issue, it's also a human rights issue in violation of international norms and medical ethics."

The Pentagon has said they will perform the force-feeding operations at night, so as not to violate the Ramadan fast.