Activist Nancy Holten has been denied a Swiss passport at the second attempt after locals complained that she was annoying.
Ok so this isn’t strictly a Prague story but I thought too was too interesting not to tell. Nancy Holten, a resident of Aargau in Switzerland has been denied a passport at the second attempt after annoying fellow residents with her vocal animal rights campaigning. Locals say that she has been disrespecting Swiss traditions and giving interviews which paint Swiss people in a bad light.
Nancy, 42, is a Dutch national, having been born in the Netherlands but she moved to Switzerland when she was young. She speaks fluent French and German and her children have Swiss citizenship. She began campaigning for animal rights and specifically against cowbells around cows necks. The bells are a longstanding Swiss farming tradition dating back many years.
“The sound that cowbells 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. The animals carry around five kilograms around their neck. It causes friction and burns to their skin.”
Unfortunately for Ms. Holten, local residents have a say in whether a person can have a Swiss passport and the residents of Aargau have had their say yet again. She applied back in 2015 but the local residents voted unanimously against her. Residents claim her anti-cowbell campaign isn’t the only source of annoyance.
She told the local media that she believed she might have been too loud in her campaigning and that her intentions hadn’t been to disrespect traditions. Her motivations were solely related to animal welfare. She didn’t want to leave Switzerland as she has friends and family and work in the country.
The president of the local political party, Swiss People’s Party, stated that Ms. Holten has a big mouth and local people thought didn’t think she was worthy of the gift of citizenship. Especially “if she annoys us and doesn’t respect our traditions”.
Local authorities claimed that whilst she may have met all the legal requirements, residents have the power to block a person from citizenship if they do not want the applicant to be part of the local community. Ms. Holten’s application might still go through as it has now been sent to the local government but they will take into account the wishes of the local community.
Does Nancy deserve a passport? Should it be left to locals to decide?