A left-wing Dutch vegan who campaigned against cowbells in the Swiss village where she lives has had a request for a Swiss passport thrown out after annoying the locals.
Nancy Holten, who was born in the Netherlands but moved to Switzerland at the age of eight, is a fluent speaker of Swiss German and has children who are Swiss nationals.
And she wanted a Swiss passport herself, but was refused after locals who were consulted about her request said they were ‘fed up’ of her challenging Swiss traditions by campaigning against the use of cow bells.
The campaign against cow bells by the 42-year-old vegan and animal-rights activist has made her unpopular in the Alpine confederation.
And now the majority of residents from Gipf-Oberfrick in the canton of Aargau have successfully blocked her second attempt to get a Swiss passport.
The resident’s committee argued that if she does not accept Swiss traditions and the Swiss way of life, she should not be able to become an official national.
She said of her situation: ‘The sound that cow bells make is a hundred decibel. It is comparable with a pneumatic drill. We also would not want such a thing hanging close to our ears?’
She also railed against the weight of the famous cow bells.
Nancy complained: ‘The bells, which the cows have to wear when they walk to and from the pasture, are especially heavy.
‘The animals carry around five kilograms around their neck. It causes friction and burns to their skin.’
The Dutchwoman, who describes herself as a freelance journalist, model and drama student, has also campaigned against a number of other Swiss traditions like hunting, pig races and the noisy church bells in town.
It’s a tradition for cows to wear bells in her Switzerland town. The bell is standard for alpine cattle when left to graze in alpine meadows.
In 2015 the villagers successfully stopped her application for naturalisation in a referendum.
While the town authorities wanted to give her the Swiss nationality, 144 out of 206 citizens voted against the plan.
This time her application was denied again, with locals especially angry about the increasing media coverage Holten seeks for railing against Swiss traditions.
Holten said she does not have anything against Swiss traditions but in the end only cares about animal welfare.
Local politician Tanja Suter agreed with the majority of the town’s citizens and said Holten had a ‘big mouth’, saying she did not deserve to get a Swiss passport ‘if she irritates us and does not respect our traditions’. …
The case has now been transferred to the Cantonal government in Aargau, which can overrule the decision and can still grant her a Swiss passport despite the objections of the locals.
Local residents in Switzerland often have a say in citizenship applications, which are decided by the cantons and towns where the applicants live rather than federal government.
About 20 per cent of the Swiss population is estimated to be foreign.