Everywhere you look nowadays, Islam is used (and misused) as a political force. Some Muslims employ it as a call to action; many in the West (and elsewhere) perceive it as an "other" demanding containment and exclusion. As a Turk, I feel both sides of this debate directly.
The reason that Islam seems like a religion of the "other" to Western eyes is that the West has witnessed a systematic de-institutionalization of religion. It is not religion that disappeared from modern Western life, of course, but rather the claims that religious institutions can make on individual behavior. Religion in the modern world is a much more personal and spiritual experience than ever before.