In an October 17, 2020 article in the Egyptian daily Al-Watan, liberal journalist Khaled Montaser referred to the gruesome murder of Samuel Paty, the French history teacher who had shown his class cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a lesson on freedom of speech and was later beheaded by a young Muslim of Chechen origin. In the article, titled "Our Backwardness Is the Worst Insult to the Prophet," Montaser condemned the radical Arab reactions to the Muhammad cartoons and claimed that it is the backwardness, violence, and extremism in the Muslim world that harm the image of Islam and the Prophet.
It should be noted that Montaser expressed similar sentiments in a 2006 article following the furious Arab and Muslim reactions to the publication of the Muhammad cartoons in the Danish newspaper. He claimed that the backwardness and underdevelopment of the Muslim world, and its economic, security, medical, and technological dependence on countries that are viewed by Muslims as infidel, were a much greater insult to the Prophet Muhammad than any mocking cartoons could be.
The following are translated excerpts from Khaled Montaser's recent article:
Khaled Montaser (Source: Facebook.com/khmontaser)
"When [French President] Macron said that Islam is in crisis, many were angry and condemned [his words], especially [Muslim] clerics. Are they still condemning and feeling the same fury after the beheading of the history teacher in a Paris suburb by a Muslim Chechen student, only 18 years old, who shouted 'Allah Akbar' before slaughtering him? He didn't play jazz or dance the Macarena, he slaughtered, cut and chopped off his head, convinced that by doing so he was defending his religion and responding to the degradation of the Prophet Muhammad. [But if the Prophet] were to witness the backwardness of the Muslims today, he would say, 'Oh Muslims, your situation, your backwardness and your position at the bottom of the [ranking of] nations are the greatest insult to me as a prophet,' when the first word that came down to [me] from Allah was "read"!!!'
"Is it not a greater insult to the Prophet that his people and followers, and the Islamic countries, are unable to defend themselves without the American and British bases and the weapons of the West? Is in not a disgrace that Arab Islamic countries are unable to manufacture a missile, a plane or even a broomstick [for themselves]?!!! Don't the contradictory and ludicrous fatwas published by the 'business sheikhs' on the 'satellite channel stock exchange' constitute a bigger insult to the intellect and to the Prophet himself? The thousands who have died in hysterical [stampedes] during the stone-throwing [ritual of] warding off the Devil on the death bridge [in Mecca], while fulfilling a [religious] commandment that is said to purify the soul and uplift the spirit, [and] who have died because of fatwas issued by the 'casually-dressed preachers' and the sheiks of the seven star hotels - is this shedding of blood [by these clerics and sheikhs] not a greater insult to our monumental Prophet? Is it not a disgrace for the Prophet that most of the Muslims' computers are produced by the Intel company which is based in Israel?! Is it not disgraceful that the budget of Germany, Spain or France is many times larger than the budget of the Arab countries, and that the number of Internet users and of books printed in Israel, relative to the size of its population, is many times greater than in the Islamic countries, where most of the library bookshelves are crowded with volumes about demons and superstitions? Is it not a disgrace for the Prophet that not one Islamic university ranks among the world's 500 best universities?!!!
"The greatest insult to the Prophet Muhammad is that Islamic countries have taken the world lead in poverty, deteriorating education, rampant bribery and corruption and terrorist attacks. Is it not the greatest insult to the Prophet that the Buddhist and Confucian China, which we consider infidel, is the one that manufactures the prayer mats for [the Prophet's] Muslim followers, as well as their prayer beads, their robes, the compasses that indicate the direction of prayer, and even their Ramadan lanterns? Is it not a disgrace and debasement that the world's chosen nation [i.e., the Muslims] must beg and receive four out of five loaves of bread from America, while all the medicines for the treatment of its sick, all the surgical equipment, x-ray machines and diagnostic apparatuses, and even the band-aids, gauze, ointments… and so on, are all products of the infidel West? Is in not an insult to the Prophet that, in 500 years, not a single Muslim has invented as much as a nut [for a bolt]?!…
"Is it not degradation of the Prophet to imprison, deport, exile and kill those [moderate Muslims] who defend his image against stories and tales that describe him as a sorcerer or claim that he wreaks vengeance on people by gouging out their eyes, cutting off their limbs or denying them liquids until they die, or that he would lie with his wives after one purifying bath, that he had the virility of 40 men, or that he married a child, etc.? These stories have become sacred to most Muslims, and whoever tries to refute them joins the victims destined for murder, exile, oppression, public denunciation, slander, and a [general] embitterment of their lives.
"In the final analysis, we have to ask ourselves and answer bravely: What is it that really debases the Prophet, the French cartoons or the shameful and backward situation of Islamic [society]?"
 Elaph.com, February 4, 2006.
 Al-Watan (Egypt), October 17, 2020.
 On October 2, 2020, French President Emmanuel Macron said that Islam is "in crisis all over the world" and underlined the need to fight "Islamist separatism" in France. His words sparked criticism in conservative Muslim circles, such as Egypt's Al-Azhar (Facebook.com/AIRCAzhar, October 3, 2020).
 The reference is to a ritual performed as part of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, in which pilgrims throw stones at three pillars representing the Devil. Over the years there have been many incidents of pilgrims being injured and killed during this ritual.
 A reference to modern young preachers, some of whom appear on religious programs on satellite channels and other media platforms. 'Othman Fikri, a columnist for the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, wrote that these preachers have considerable influence on young men and women from wealthy families, and that they have influenced many women to don the hijab and niqab (Gate.ahram.org.eg, May 20, 2018).
 Refers to preachers who use religion to make a profit.