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Vegan anti-cowbell campaigner denied passport ‘for being annoying’

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(The Independent, United Kingdom) A woman has been denied a second application for a Swiss passport after local residents took offence to her rejection of traditions and her “annoying” campaigning.

Ms Holten had objected to the tradition of cows wearing bells on animal rights grounds Rex Features

Nancy Holten, 42, who was born in the Netherlands, moved to Switzerland when she was eight. She is fluent in Swiss German and her children have Swiss citizenship.

The animal rights activist has campaigned publicly against the local traditions of putting bells around cows’ necks and piglet racing, according to The Local

In her village within the canton of Aargau, Ms Holten, a vegan, has rubbed locals up the wrong way by giving interviews to the media about her views on animal rights.

“The sound that cow bells make is a hundred decibel. It is comparable to a pneumatic drill. We also would not want such a thing hanging close to our ears?” she reportedly told the media.

“The animals carry around five kilograms around their neck. It causes friction and burns to their skin,” she has said in interviews, according to the Daily Mail. 

In Switzerland, local residents have a say in a person’s passport application in Switzerland. Ms Holten’s first attempt at naturalisation was made in 2015, when she was approved by local authorities but rejected by 144 out of 206 residents in a vote.

“I think I was too strident and spoke my mind too often,” Ms Holten told The Local, adding her intention had not been to attack Swiss traditions but that in the case of the cowbell complaints she had been motivated by animals’ welfare. She said Switzerland is her home and a place where she has friends and relatives and work.

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

Urs Treier, a spokesperson for the local government administration in the village, told The Local that residents know the legal requirements for Ms Holten’s naturalisation have been met, but that if a person who puts themselves in the spotlight and rebels against accepted traditions in a local community “it can cause the community to not want such a person in their midst”.

Ms Holten’s second attempt at naturalisation was rejected in November last year and has now been sent to the cantonal government in Aargau, where it could still be approved.

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