Swiss Locals Deny Citizenship to ‘Annoying’ Vegan

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A community in Switzerland recently turned down a vegan's request for Swiss citizenship because she "annoys" local residents and does not respect their traditions.

Nancy Holten, 42, applied for citizenship in Switzerland and faced no formal objections from municipal and cantonal authorities, but a local committee of residents, from the community of Gipf-Oberfrick in the canton of Aargau, has twice denied her application, according to the Local, a Swiss English-language news site.

In Switzerland, local communities often have a larger say in citizenship applications than the federal government.

Holten moved from her native Netherlands to Switzerland when she was eight years old and has children who hold Swiss citizenship. She is an outspoken vegan who regularly campaigns against cowbells, the noise from church bells, piglet racing, and other Swiss traditions, drawing the ire of locals.

Holten regularly does interviews with the press about her activism and views.

Much of the annoyance with Holten is not that she speaks her mind, but that she does so in such a public manner and draws negative attention to the local community.

One of Holten's biggest targets are cowbells. She complains that the weight of the bell and the strap holding it hurts cows' necks.

"Many people think that I am attacking their traditions," Holten told the Local. "But that was not what it was about, it was never about that. What primarily motivated me about the cowbells was the animals' welfare."

The local political leader of the Swiss People's Party said that his community does not want to give Holten citizenship "if she annoys us and doesn't respect our traditions."

Holten could still be granted citizenship by the government despite the desire of locals for her not to receive it.