Picture of Founder

Musician Denied Entry to Lebanon

Culture and music were the first casualties of the successive wars in Lebanon. Johann Ludwig Schneller School had a very high standard of music education incorporated into its curriculum in the distant past. All was lost during the long years of war.
Music heals wounds, and it is the most wonderful bridge across cultures.
The discipline that musicians need to acquire their wonderful skills builds character while music builds the soul and mind.
The thing young people in our region need most is music education.
For years our school has been trying to restore the wonderful music tradition it had in the past. As a charitable organization it is always short on funds. We appealed to our alumni, friends, and partners to help as meet this need.
They all quickly came to assist us achieve this objective.
Alumnus Dr. Basil Rishmaoui of EVS collected brass instruments in Germany and kindly airfreighted them to our school. Cedar Forest in Barook
Dr. Nasser Dahdal sent us a few instruments from Switzerland.
Alumnus Aziz Ashalaby with our partners LBMS (Lutheran Board for Mission Support - USA) sent us funds to buy the other music instruments we needed.
The climax of our efforts was the support of SES (Senior Experts Service in Germany) that arranged the visit of the famous trombone musician Professor Armin Rosine to our school to lay the ground work for starting a Schneller brass band.
He not only did wonderful work in our school with our children but upon his return he performed in a charitable concert in Germany the proceeds of which were donated to Schneller School.
He did even more. Through his contacts with music societies in Europe he helped us find a highly qualified German musician, Lars Bausch, who accepted to come to Schneller School to finally fulfill our dream of starting a brass band for our students.
We had to ask for a musician from Germany because we tried for three successive years to find a local teacher who would start a brass band but failed.
Lars was supposed to arrive last September, but the terrible attacks on the Lebanese army in North Beqaa and the deteriorating security situation made us advise Lars to postpone his arrival to Lebanon.
He did not sign any contracts in Germany because he wanted to come to help our children learn music. He already had bought the ticket when we advised him not to come for fear over his personal safety.
It was a big disappointment for him and for us, but he took it nicely in spite of the fact that it was a last minute decision. He had no job, no apartment, and had turned down all offers for the next concert season, yet in spite of all that he took it very nicely.
Lars' ticket was valid until this May 2015.
With the latest positive developments in Lebanon after the Lebanese army re-established its authority in North Beqaa and restored security and order in the region, we thought it was now safe for Lars to make a visit for a few days.
As his ticket was still valid, he suggested to visit our school for a few days to see how he can Cedar Forest in Barook help us with music. He even collected many clothing items from Germany to bring to our needy students. He had two huge suitcases filled with clothes.
He was scheduled to arrive on Lufthansa flight 1306 from Frankfurt on Wednesday 6 May 2015. We sent the school mini-bus to bring him from the airport. The Schneller member of staff at the airport was waiting for him, but as it took long he decided to ask why Lars was not already out.
He was informed that Lars was denied entry to Lebanon.
He tried to ask why but no reason was given. He called the director who personally called General Security to enquire why Lars was denied entry, but no reason was given.
As if that was not bad enough, we later got news from Lars' family in Germany who were very worried about the way he was treated at the airport. The news that "he was arrested in a small room with other men with no chance to sleep and he doesn't have his passport" was very distressing news to them and to us in Schneller School.

Following is Lars' account of his experience that night:

I reached "passport control and  it took very long time for them to check it. That was the first time I was wondering or thinking about something will be strange.  After that, they took me to an office where I had to stay about one hour and they were calling a lot to different people (of course all in Arabic, so I was not able to understand one word) and I was trying to ask them what the problem is. I do have a quite good English  and my French is also quite fluent, so I tried it in both languages but they really showed me that they don't want to communicate to me. Finally, after hours, one guy from my airline arrived to this office and he was really trying to help me, he was explaining that I am not allowed to enter Lebanon and when he asked the policemen why, he got every time the answer we all know now: There is no reason! So then this guy from my airline explained me that I have to follow the policemen and they would bring me to a room where I will be arrested for the next twelve hours, until the next flight is going back to Germany - they cared about changing my ticket.  Then I arrived in this room, sitting together with about eight other people, just able to go to toilet or to ask for some water. Normally I thought, that if you are not allowed to enter one country, you are allowed to move free in the transit-area, but even that they did not accept, they even kept my passport for the whole time. Later in night it was the discussion about my luggage, that I brought two big suitcases full of donation-clothes and with my return flight I was not allowed to take both of them back, just one. So I explained them that they please will take the second suitcase and give them to people who really need it. They understood what I said but I am not sure at all if it really will happen. Probably they just will destroy it. And the end, about four o'clock in the morning, they took me out of the room and I was still accompanied to the gate by a policeman who still kept my passport. And he was caring about that I am really entering the airplane so I was the very first to enter the airplane (strange situation again: there was already the whole queue to wait for the airplane and I had to go along them with my "partner", the policeman). Finally I really have to say that I somehow felt like a prisoner... It's not a problem for me to stay a night at the airport but how they  treated me made my a bit sad.."

We asked Lars if his passport had a stamp in it from Israel, but he assured us that he has never been to Israel and his passport only has visas to Colombia and China.
This incident is very puzzling and is never expected in Beirut Hariri International Airport.

We bring this incident to the attention of General Security kindly requesting all who are concerned to maintain the positive image that our dear country Lebanon always had, and we hope will always have.

We sincerely apologize to Lars and the Bausch family in Germany for this most unfortunate incident.

Schneller School Name in Arabic
Johann Ludwig Schneller Schule

Education for Peace since 1860