Perhaps some people fear a religion because they do understand it, not because they don’t.
In the Koran it talks about hellfire and eternal torture. About burning sinners and then putting their skins back on to re-burn. It talks about beating your wife. It talks about killing Jews and not taking Christians as friends. It says that Jews are ‘pigs’. It talks about the crucifixion and amputation of apostates and criminals. Etc. Want more? Take a random page of the Koran and you'll get more.
There is a lot to fear in the Koran. The ‘good’ parts of the Koran about ‘peace ‘n’ love’ come from the early parts, before Muhammad had power. All these good bits are ‘abrogated’ (or contradicted) by later passages. This is not surprising. Mohamed was not a logician by trade.
Why assume that religion can only be bad if it is ‘twisted’ into being bad by bad people? Why can’t a religion itself be bad? Isn’t that at least possible? What about the bad aspects of Aztec religion such as twenty thousand people being sacrificed to the sun god by having their hearts pulled out? Perhaps this is also true of a monotheistic religion – Islam. As least contemplate the possibility that a bad religion does not require bad people to ‘twist’ or 'distort' it.
What do you mean by ‘the media’ showing only the ‘extremes’ of Islam? Why do you assume, like Chomsky and all Trots, that people are so easily brainwashed by the Media (a huge platonic entity)? The media includes the Internet, the Guardian in the UK (which has at least six Islamists on its staff), the New Statesman, Indymedia, the pro-Islam BBC, the pro-Islam Independent, etc.
If you ‘don’t know a lot about Islam’, then why do you automatically ‘respect’ its followers? I wouldn’t respect any follower of an ideology or religion unless I knew enough about his or her religion or ideology.