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Dutch anti-cowbell campaigner finally handed Swiss citizenship

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Dutch anti-cowbell campaigner finally handed Swiss citizenship
Nancy Holten with her daughter's Swiss passport. Private photo.
14:19 CEST+02:00
A Dutch woman who twice had her Swiss citizenship application refused by her local village council because she complained about cow bells and other animal rights issues has finally received confirmation that she is now officially Swiss.

Nancy Holten announced the news on Tuesday on Twitter, including a letter from Aargau cantonal authorities confirming the decision.

“No one can tell me I am not Swiss anymore,” Holten told The Local, reacting to the news she had finally been granted citizenship.

“I have lived in Switzerland since I was eight and my children are Swiss. Although I have Dutch origins back in my past and these are not unimportant, I have always felt Swiss,” she added.

Holten made international headlines early in 2017 after the residents' committee in her village of Gipf-Oberfrick, in the canton of Aargau, refused her citizenship application for the second time, despite the fact she met all legal requirements. 

Read also: How to apply for Swiss citizenship in 2018

Holten then appealed to Aargau cantonal authorities, who took her side against the village committee, saying in a statement it saw “all the prerequisites for naturalisation as fulfilled”.

In a process that has taken close to a year, cantonal authorities have now directly approved her citizenship, bypassing the village committee.

A vegan and supporter of animal rights, over the past few years Holten frequently campaigned against cowbells, claiming they damage cows' health. Other campaigns, such as those against the noise of church bells in the village, have seen her regularly interviewed by Swiss media outlets.

In January 2017 a spokesman for the village told The Local that villagers hadn't refused Holten's application for citizenship because of her opinions on animal rights but because she had sought such media attention. One local politician said Holten had a "big mouth".

And even now that Holten has received her citizenship, the negative comments haven’t completely stopped. She told The Local on Wednesday that one user had responded to her tweet on Tuesday by saying “the village has given citizenship to an animal.”

But the brand-new Swiss resident said she “sees the humorous side” of life and doesn’t “take things too seriously”.

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