Woman deemed 'too annoying' to get Swiss citizenship wins battle for passport

Nancy Holten campaigned publicly against the use of cowbells and other local traditions

Samuel Osborne
Tuesday 02 May 2017 08:26 BST
Nancy Holten says she has experienced 'humiliation, being cold-shouldered, praise [and] contempt'
Nancy Holten says she has experienced 'humiliation, being cold-shouldered, praise [and] contempt' (Nancy Holten/Twitter)

A Dutch woman who had two applications for a Swiss passport denied after local residents objected to her "annoying" campaigning has won her battle for citizenship.

Nancy Holten, 43, was born in the Netherlands and moved to Switzerland when she was eight. She is fluent in Swiss German and her children have Swiss citizenship.

Ms Holten gained a reputation in the village of Gipf-Oberfrick for campaigning publicly against the local traditions of putting bells around cows' necks and piglet racing.

She had also set up an anti-cowbell Facebook page and campaigned against the village's church bells.

Campaigner explains why she is vegan as Swiss town denies her a passport 'for being annoying'

Ms Holten appealed to the Aargau cantonal authorities, which took her side against the village committee, The Local reports.

The canton said there was no justification to say she was insufficiently integrated to become a Swiss citizen.

It approved her application directly so she would not have to apply to the village committee a third time.

Ms Holten had courted controversy among local residents, who often have a say in Swiss citizenship applications, for giving interviews to the media about her views on animal rights.

She made her first attempt at naturalisation in 2015, when she was approved by local authorities but rejected by 144 out of 206 residents in a vote.

Tanja Suter, president of the local Swiss People’s Party, claimed Ms Holten had a “big mouth” and residents had not wanted to give her the gift of citizenship “if she annoys us and doesn’t respect our traditions”.

Ms Holten told The Local she was "relieved" she had been granted citizenship.

“It is an indescribable feeling. I have the feeling that I have finally ‘arrived’. Switzerland is my homeland," she said.

She added: “I have experienced everything you could possibly imagine in the last two years. Humiliation, being cold-shouldered, praise, contempt, taps on the shoulder, encouragement, threats, workplace harassment.

"But I learned a lot from it and it has made me strong."

Ms Holten said she intends to continue to campaign for animal rights.

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