Animal rights activist denied Swiss citizenship over cowbell complaints

Children walk with cowbells through the streets of the village of Ardez in the valley of Engadin in eastern Switzerland, during the Chalandamarz winter festival. Cowbells are a longstanding tradition in Switzerland, but don't tell that to animal rights activist Nancy Holten, whose opposition to them cost her a chance to become a Swiss citizen. Photo by Arno Balzarini/European Pressphoto Agency

GENEVA, Switzerland, Jan. 15 (UPI) — Here’s a fever that can’t be cured by more cowbell.

A Danish animal rights activist was denied Swiss citizenship after her repeated public criticism of cowbells, a popular tradition in the country.

Nancy Holten has lived in Switzerland for 33 years and applied for Swiss citizenship. However, the request was denied after fellow residents in the village of Gipf-Oberfrick objected, labeling Holten’s constant public complaints about cowbells annoying.

In Switzerland, citizenship requests are decided by locals, not the Swiss government.

Holten, 42, a vegan animal rights activist who has lived in Switzerland since childhood, argued the cowbells are harmful to bovines because they are too loud and heavy and should be outlawed.

Her dislike of bells did not stop at bovines. Holten also complained about the noise of church bells ringing near her home early in the morning.

The complaining appears to have taken its toll.

After a village vote earlier this week, Holten’s request was denied. It was the second time she has sought and been denied Swiss citizenship by her neighbors.

“She annoys us and doesn’t respect our traditions,” local politician Tanja Suter said.

Others defended Holten, saying her opinions shouldn’t preclude her from becoming a citizen of a country where she has lived for a majority of her life.

“Not liking cowbells or church bells is no reason to deny naturalization, because in Switzerland we have freedom of expression,” village board spokesman Urs Treier told USA Today.┬áBut “if a person makes her criticism public, people may see it as rebellion against our traditions.”


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