To the majority of people in the western world, Islam is seen as a 'different' religion, although some people often come into contact with Muslim men and women, they fail and in some cases don't care to, understand it. Because of this, a lot of people's perception of Islam comes from the standpoint of ignorance and they treat Muslims and Islamic issues accordingly.
One of the reasons that people have an in-built prejudice to Islam is because of history and tradition. For hundreds of years, from the 8th century Moor conquerors to the Ottoman incursion of Austria in the 17th century, Christianity (a majority of the western world) and Islam have been at odds with each other. The reason for this shared animosity (That has passed from generation to generation), is that throughout history, each religion and people have felt that their God is in fact the only God and that the other faith is filled with Heretics or Infidels.
In modern times another reason for western people's apprehension towards Islam is that they do not understand it's people or customs, they may see a women wearing a veil and automatically think she is a grenade-toting terrorist.
In the last 25 years there has been a resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism and many western people automatically link these groups to the mainstream Muslim population and state, this is probably the main reason people believe that Islam is a threat to the west. Monshipouri (1998) shows that this is far from the case that, "Political, rather than religious, considerations have been as much the driving force in Islamic states as elsewhere. The 1991 Gulf War patently demonstrated that religious considerations of the region's countries were superseded by their political calculations. The behaviour of Iran, Turkey, Israel, and the Arab countries throughout the...