Dutch vegan found “too annoying” to be Swiss by Swiss locals

Nancy Holten, a Dutch woman who grew up in Switzerland, has applied for Swiss citizenship twice.  She’s been turned down for being too annoying.

Twice, the cowbells have tolled for Nancy Holten

The local residents’ committee has turned her bid for citizenship— because she annoys them, according to The Local, a Swiss news website.

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 already have Swiss citizenship.

Ms. Holten, a vegan and animal rights activist, has campaigned noisily in social media against the use of cowbells, hunting, pig races and church bells.

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 a citizen.

Ms. Holten told local media:

“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 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?”

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

Ms. Holten admits: “I think I spoke my mind too often, and I say it out too loud.”

In Switzerland, local residents often have a say in citizenship applications. According to the naturalization rules in the canton of Basel-Country, those seeking citizenship must be able to speak German to B1 level and be integrated into Swiss and local customs.

In May 2016 a Kosovan family had their application for citizenship opposed by the residents’ committee because they wore jogging bottoms around town and didn’t greet their neighbors.

Another family’s application was suspended when two boys refused to shake hands with their female teachers, a common practice at the beginning and end of the school day.

Two Muslim girls’ naturalization requests were denied by Swiss authorities after they refused to participate in school swimming lessons with boys.

And in 2014 an American expat who had lived in Switzerland for 43 years had his citizenship application turned down as it was decided he wasn’t sufficiently integrated despite having raised three children in the village with his English teacher German wife.


Dunn was asked to name the number of lakes in the canton of Schwyz, the largest employer in Einsiedeln and the name of holidays held only in Einsiedeln.

Meanwhile, Holten’s application is in the hands of Aargau’s cantonal government, which could still decide to grant her citizenship over residents’ objections.

H/T: The Local

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