The motives of this massacre are differently told; according to some, the captives were slain by way of reprisal for the death of those Christians whom the Musulmans had slain. Others again say that the king of England, on deciding to attempt the conquest of Ascalon, thought it unwise to leave so many prisoners in the town after his departure. God alone knows what the real reason was.
In the nineteenth century, Saladin achieved a great reputation in Europe as a chivalrous knight, due to his fierce struggle against the crusaders and his generosity. Although Saladin faded into history after the Middle Ages, he appears in a sympathetic light in Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's play Nathan the Wise (1779) and in Sir Walter Scott's novel The Talisman (1825). The contemporary view of Saladin originates mainly from these texts. According to Jonathan Riley-Smith, Scott's portrayal of Saladin was that of a "modern [19th-century] liberal European gentlemen, beside whom medieval Westerners would always have made a poor showing". Despite the Crusaders' slaughter when they originally conquered Jerusalem in 1099, Saladin granted amnesty and free passage to all Common Catholics and even to the defeated Christian army, as long as they were able to pay the aforementioned ransom (the Greek Orthodox Christians were treated even better, because they often opposed the western Crusaders).
In 1898, German Emperor Wilhelm II visited Saladin's tomb to pay his respects. The visit, coupled with anti-imperialist sentiments, led nationalist Arabs to reinvent the image of Saladin and portray him as a hero of the struggle against the West. The image of Saladin they used was the romantic one created by Walter Scott and other Europeans in the West at the time, conveniently ignoring Saladin's Kurdish ethnicity. It replaced Saladin's reputation as a figure who had been largely forgotten in the Muslim world, eclipsed by more successful figures, such as Baybars of Egypt.
Although the Ayyubid dynasty that he founded would only outlive him by 57 years, the legacy of Saladin within the Arab World continues to this day. With the rise of Arab nationalism in the 20th Century, particularly with regard to the Arab–Israeli conflict, Saladin's heroism and leadership gained a new significance. Saladin's recapture of Palestine from the European Crusaders is considered an inspiration for modern-day Arabs' opposition to Zionism. Moreover, the glory and comparative unity of the Arab World under Saladin was seen as the perfect symbol for the new unity sought by Arab nationalists, such as Gamal Abdel Nasser. For this reason, the Eagle of Saladin became the symbol of revolutionary Egypt, and was subsequently adopted by several other Arab states (the United Arab Republic, Iraq, Libya, the State of Palestine, and Yemen).
After spending one night in Aleppo's citadel, Saladin marched to Harim, near the Crusader-held Antioch. The city was held by Surhak, a "minor mamluk." Saladin offered him the city of Busra and property in Damascus in exchange for Harim, but when Surhak asked for more, his own garrison in Harim forced him out. He was arrested by Saladin's deputy Taqi al-Din on allegations that he was planning to cede Harim to Bohemond III of Antioch. When Saladin received its surrender, he proceeded to arrange the defense of Harim from the Crusaders. He reported to the caliph and his own subordinates in Yemen and Baalbek that was going to attack the Armenians. Before he could move, however, there were a number of administrative details to be settled. Saladin agreed to a truce with Bohemond in return for Muslim prisoners being held by him and then he gave A'zaz to Alam ad-Din Suleiman and Aleppo to Saif al-Din al-Yazkuj—the former was an emir of Aleppo who joined Saladin and the latter was a former mamluk of Shirkuh who helped rescue him from the assassination attempt at A'zaz.
Modern Arab states have sought to commemorate Saladin through various measures, often based on the image created of him in the 19th-century west. A governorate centered around Tikrit and Samarra in modern-day Iraq, Salah ad Din Governorate, is named after him, as is Salahaddin University in Erbil, the largest city of Iraqi Kurdistan. A suburban community of Erbil, Masif Salahaddin, is also named after him.