Walter Scott, The Talisman, the Crusades, Richard I of England and Saladin: Myths, Legends and History
by Ibn Warraq
Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7 / Part 8 / Part 9 / Part 10 / Part 11 / Part 12 / Part 13 / Part 14 / Part 15 / Part 16 / Part 17 / Part 18 / Part 19 / Part 20 / Part 21 / Part 22 / Part 23 / Part 24 / Part 25 / Part 26 / Part 27 / Part 28 / Part 29 / Part 30 / Part 31 / Part 32 / Part 33 / Part 34 / Part 35 / Part 36 / Part 37 / Part 38 / Part 39
OTHER EXAMPLES OF SALADIN’S VINDICTIVENESS, AND CRUELTY.
Saladin did not show much mercy to the Crusaders taken prisoner after the latter’s unsuccessful attack on the town of Hama in August 1178. As Ehrenkreutz says, “The prisoners of war were delivered to Saladin. If some of them expected magnanimity from the Muslim leader, they were in for tragic disappointment. Saladin still smarted from his last confrontation with the Crusaders; the prisoners furnished a convenient outlet for his vindictiveness. They were brought into his presence and summarily executed, one after another, by members of his retinue. The preacher Diya al-Din al-Tabari began the bloodbath by personally decapitating a few of the defenceless captives. Another divine, Sulayman al-Maghribi, followed his example, then emir Aytghan ibn Yaruq and others did so. Only chancellor [and historian] Imad al-Din al-Isfahani refused to join in the butchery”. This account is based Ibn Al-Athir , Ibn Wasil , and ‘Imad al-Din al-Isfahani .
Lane-Poole and Gibb, on the whole, chose to ignore Saladin’s early years, which were spent in fighting fellow Muslims. They concentrated on Saladin’s struggles against the Crusaders. But the reality is that from the beginning of his independent reign in 1174 to his death in 1193, Saladin spent twelve years fighting Muslims (mainly the family and partisans of the Zangids), and only five years in pursuing Jihad, the Holy War against the Latin Kingdom and the Third Crusade. 
Saladin seems at times to have little control over the excesses of his troops, and at other times seems to allow that they had every right to booty and plunder. Here is how Ehrenkreutz characterises the comportment of Saladin’s troops after the surrender of Sinjar in December, 1182: “the defenders must have given the Ayyubid army a lot of trouble, because once they entered the city, the population had to endure the wild excesses of Saladin’s enraged soldiers, who broke all discipline in greed of plunder. That Sinjar was captured during Ramadan demonstrated the lack of concern Saladin and his followers had about restrictive religious injunctions”. 
BURNING OF CHURCHES.
There are indeed other examples of Saladin’s willingness to fight, kill, or burn churches during Ramadan. Let us look at the town of Lydda. Here is how the Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, describes the town of Lydda [under; “Ludd”] and its magnificent cathedral: “the Byzantine church [of Lydda] is described by all the early Christian travellers. On the eve of the invasion of the Crusaders in 1099, the Muslims destroyed it again. The Crusaders found Ludd [Lydda] and Ramla deserted, and thus were easily able to establish a corridor from Jaffa to Jersualem, whence they could mount their attack on the Holy City as well as widen their hold on central and southern Palestine. In Ludd [Lydda] they built in 1150 a new cathedral with much splendour and magnificence, over the remains of the previous Byzantine church and the Saint’s tomb.” In September 1191, Wednesday 3 Ramadan, Saladin, as Bahā’ al-Dīn tells us, “viewed the town and viewed its church and the great size of its construction, then ordered its demolition and also the demolition of the castle at Ramla”.  If that were not sacrilege enough, two days later, i.e., Friday 5 Ramadan, Saladin had some local Christians executed because they were found to be carrying letters to the “enemy” on them.
Saladin also ordered the destruction of another beautiful church, that of the Church of the Virgin in the town of Tartus, or Tortosa (also known as Antartus), which he captured in July 1188. Here is Bahā’ al-Dīn Ibn Shaddād’s description: “[Saladin] pressed on with the demolition of the city wall until it was all done, and then he demolished the church, an important one in their [Crusaders’] eyes and the object of of pilgrimage from all over their lands. He ordered the city to be torched and everything was burnt. Fire roared through the palaces and houses, while our voices were raised in cries of “There is no god but God” and “God is Great”. He stayed there, carrying out this destruction until 11 July, then he left for Jabala.”  The Church was either rebuilt later in the same year 1188, or just possibly survived the holocaust. 
FURTHER EXECUTIONS: HUMAN SACRIFICE.
After their successful naval attack on the Crusaders’ flotilla off Aidhab, on the west coast of the Red Sea in 1183, Muslims killed most of the Crusaders on the spot, while one hundred and seventy others were captured and taken to the capital where Saladin specifically instructed that they be paraded in the major Egyptian cities and then decapitated. Ibn al-Athir  adds the horrific detail that some of the prisoners were sent to Mina, a place five kilometers to the east of Mecca. It plays an important part in the rituals associated with the pilgrimage to Mecca. The Christian prisoners were to be sacrificed- ritually slaughtered by having their throats cut -- in place of goats or sheep.
 Ibid., p.260.
 Ibn Wāṣil. Mufarrij al-Kurūb, Cairo, 1953-60, 2:71.
 ‘Imad al-Din al-Isfahani. Al-Barq al-Shami, vol.iii. ed. Mustafa al-Hiyari, Amman, 1986, pp.130-131.
 P.M.Holt. Saladin and His Admirers: A Biographical Reassessment, in BSOAS, Vol.46, No.2 (1983),pp.235-239.
 Bahā’ al-Dīn Ibn Shaddād, op.cit, p.181.
 Van Berchem, Journal Asiatique, 1902, pp424-425.
 Ibn al-Athir, op.,cit., p.290.