The Council, which was the architect of the European Convention on Human Rights, also said that religious groups must accept that their beliefs cannot be protected from criticism:
Freedom of expression is not only applicable to expressions that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also to those that may shock, offend or disturb the state or any sector of population within the limits of Article 10 of the Convention. Any democratic society must permit open debate on matters relating to religion and beliefs.
The recommendation also makes specific reference to “threats issued by Muslim leaders against journalists and writers.” From Paragraph 13:
While religions are free to penalise in a religious sense any religious offences, such penalties must not threaten the life, physical integrity, liberty or property of an individual or women’s civil and human rights. […] Member states have the obligation to protect individuals against religious penalties which threaten the right to life and the right to liberty and security of a person under Articles 2 and 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. No state has the right to impose itself such penalties for religious offences, either.
Good work, Council of Europe.
(Hat tip Gagwatch)