Blasphemy appears more frequently in headlines from the Muslim world, where countries such as Pakistan or Saudi Arabia readily punish perceived critics of Islam, but a lesser known trend is a general movement in Europe away from such laws.

Cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed and works of art seen as offensive to Islam have angered many Muslims in Europe and beyond in recent years, sometimes sparking violent protests. Yet attacks on religion no longer seem to shock most Europeans.

In the Netherlands, scrapping a 1932 blasphemy law became an issue last year after a court undermined it by acquitting far-right leader Geert Wilders on charges of inciting hatred against Muslims.

Ireland opens a constitutional convention on Saturday to consider a major reform of the political system, including removal of a blasphemy law only passed in 2009.

Greece is a major exception. The producer, director and actors in a play depicting Jesus and his Apostles as gay were charged this month with blasphemy after protests by priests and right-wingers, including deputies from the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party

The Dutch and Irish cases fit into a trend of abolishing blasphemy laws as antiquated leftovers in today’s Europe, said historian David Nash of Oxford Brookes University in Britain.