Vegan denied passport because she was 'being annoying'
4:09 PM Thursday Jan 12, 2017
Nancy Holten's campaigning rubbed locals the wrong way. Photo / Facebook
A woman has been denied a Swiss passport because residents thought her animal rights campaigning and criticism of local traditions was "annoying".
Nancy Holten, 42, was born in the Netherlands, moved to Switzerland when she was eight, and has two children who are Swiss citizens.
But her second attempt to obtain a Swiss passport of her own has been rejected by the residents committee in Gipf-Oberfrick in the canton of Aargau, who have a say in citizenship applications, according to The Local.
It reported Holten, a vegan and animal rights campaigner, has gained an unfavourable reputation in the municipality due to her hard-line stance against the local use of cowbells, which she claims damages cows' health.
Holten has also campaigned against hunting and piglet racing, as well as complained about noise from church bells in town.
So when it came time for the residents to decide on whether Holten should become a naturalised Swiss, they said no.
Swiss People's Party local branch president Tanja Suter told Swiss media that Holten had a "big mouth".
She said the committee didn't want to give Ms Holten the "present" of Swiss citizenship "if she annoys us and doesn't respect our traditions".
Ms Holten, who speaks fluent Swiss-German, told The Local she thought she was rejected because she was "too strident and spoke my mind too often".
"Many people think that I am attacking their traditions. But that was not what it was about, it was never about that," she said.
"What primarily motivated me about the cowbells was the animals' welfare."
This was Ms Holten's second attempt to gain Swiss citizenship.
She said she wanted to become a citizen "because this really is my home".
"I grew up here and feel very attached to Switzerland," she said.
"I have friends and relatives here. I have worked here and take part in social life here."
Urs Treier, a spokesman for the Gipf-Oberfrick administration, told The Local Ms Holten's application wasn't rejected because of her problem with the local traditions, but because of the very public nature of her campaigning.
"The voters of Gipf-Oberfrick know that ... people who want to be naturalised in Switzerland may have different ideological opinions.
"The reason why they have yet again clearly rejected the naturalisation is that Nancy Holten very often expresses her personal opinion in the media, and also gathers media coverage for rebelling against traditional [Swiss] things within the village."
Holten's application for citizenship has now been sent to the cantonal government in Aargau, where it could still be approved.
Swiss cantons and municipalities have their own requirements for green-lighting Swiss citizenship and they vary.
Some applicants are subjected to verbal or written tests while in other cases, the decision rests with the communal assembly.
And it's not unheard of for aspiring Swiss citizens to have their hopes dashed.
Last year, a Kosovan family who lived in the canton of Basel-Country had their bid for naturalisation denied by the residents committee, partly because they wore trackpants around town.
And in 2014, an elderly American man who had lived in Switzerland for 43 years had his citizenship application rejected because he could not list the names of local lakes or identify the largest employer in town, The Local reported.
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